Liquidation / Pg. i / Miroslav Kraljević Gallery
Liquidation / Pg. 1
Jul 24 – Aug 24, 2013 Prishtina, Kosovo Artists in the exhibition John Hawke, Patricio Larrambebere, Iva Marčetić, Bojan Mucko, Fatmir Mustafa, Martha Rosler and Andreas Siekmann Curator Sarah Lookofsky Curatorial assistance Albert Heta
May 2 – 31, 2014 Zagreb, Croatia Artists in the exhibition Rafaela Dražić, John Hawke, Patricio Larrambebere, Iva Marčetić, Bojan Mrđenović, Bojan Mucko, Alban Muja, OUR (Alemka Đivoje, Dalibor Prančević, Robertina Tomić), Dina Rončević, Martha Rosler and Andreas Siekmann Curators Ana Kovačić, Sanja Sekelj, Lea Vene in collaboration with Sarah Lookofsky
Liquidation / Exhibition May 2 – 31, 2014 Zagreb, Croatia Partners Stacion—Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina, European Institute for Progressive Cultural Politics (eiPCP), Miroslav Kraljević Gallery Artists in the exhibition Rafaela Dražić, John Hawke, Patricio Larrambebere, Iva Marčetić, Bojan Mrđenović, Bojan Mucko, Alban Muja, OUR (Alemka Đivoje, Dalibor Prančević, Robertina Tomić), Dina Rončević, Martha Rosler and Andreas Siekmann Curators Ana Kovačić, Sanja Sekelj, Lea Vene in collaboration with Sarah Lookofsky Set up of the exhibition William Linn with curatorial team
Liquidation / Pg. 3
Liquidation / Conference May 3 – 4, 2014 Zagreb, Croatia Participants Milijana Babić, Neil Brenner, Boris Buden, Teodor Celakoski, Volker Eick, Emin Eminagić, John Hawke, Mario Kikaš, Domagoj Mihaljević, Bojan Mucko, OUR (Alemka Đivoje, Dalibor Prančević, Robertina Tomić), Milenko Srećković Conference concept G-MK with Mario Kikaš and Tomislav Medak, Neil Brenner's lecture organized in collaboration with Multimedia Institute (mi2) Conference moderators Mario Kikaš, Tomislav Medak, Sarah Lookofsky
date, fy� Liquidation / Pg. 5 / Sarah Lookofsky
1 From the earliest conception of the project that would become Liquidation in 2011 to its last iteration in Zagreb in 2014, several moments stand out. This text is composed of notes, in no particular hierarchical or chronological configuration, that recall conversations, readings and thoughts encountered along the way. This text is paired with screen shots from my remote research of the geographical context of Kosovo from my laptop in New York.
To liquidate is to kill off. To liquidate is also to determine the liabilities and assets of a company in the process of dismantling it. To liquidate is also to convert assets into cash. ¶ To liquidate is thus both to terminate something—in other words, to turn some-thing into no-thing—and to convert something into money. Which means that, in the linguistics of liquidation, nothing and money come to exist in parallel, as semiotic equivalents. ¶ On a related note: to liquify is to turn a solid into a liquid. It can also mean to undergo a transformation or a change of position or action (as Meriam Webster descriptively paraphrases: “We turned from Socialism to Capitalism”). ¶ All that is solid famously melts into air. The interrelationship of these terms and their overlapping transformational meanings make up part of the backdrop of the project Liquidation.
Beginnings I met with Albert Heta in New York in 2011. Albert updated me on what was going on in Kosovo—and what I recall that he termed a “neocolonial” of foreign companies buying up previously state-owned land and enterprises.² He explained how many of the purchasing parties were from the countries that intervened in the war in Kosovo. ¶ Shortly thereafter, I recall looking up the website of the Kosovo Privatization Agency. There I found lists of formerly socially-owned companies, now privatized. In crude stats, I saw telegraphic descriptions of the site for sale, vague titling of the purchasing party, profits churned and, in most cases, an abundance of jobs lost to the process. Having been preoccupied previously with artists’ occupation of land,³ the project began with the following thesis: Privatization is not necessarily registered within the domain of the visible. This invisibility is only underscored by the rise of shadow financing by multinational conglomerates and private equity investment schemes. Yet, when private corporations appropriate spaces previously in the public domain, everyday experience is affected: livelihoods are lost, space is redistributed, operations are changed, passage is rerouted, access is denied. Liquidation interrogates how the privatization of the spaces we inhabit in our everyday, although not always visible, can nevertheless be made intelligible through artistic, social and political practices. Artworks in the exhibition will address shifts in lived experience as a result of privatization, whether drastically experienced or barely registered. With the aim of creating a space for mutually informed knowledge production, artworks will be paired with conversations with social practitioners and theorists. Such combinations will serve to address how privatizations in Kosovo might relate to the global patterns of neoliberalism. ¶ By taking as its starting point the
Liquidation / Pg. 7 / Sarah Lookofsky
“forms” of contemporary capitalism, the exhibition will propose an alternate approach to signification and representation. With the aim of examining how the virtual and unseen nature of capital can lend itself to artistic figuration, works in the exhibition counter the invisible with the intelligible. In so doing, Liquidation presses the question of the contemporary social relevance of artistic practice.
International Space Liquidation is a project about space and the experience of space. This focus is sharply contrasted by the fact that I, the creator of this project, have never visited Prishtina nor Kosovo, the site for which it was created and in which it first took place. This due to the fact that we, despite various efforts, did not manage to raise funds for me to carry out a research trip to Pristina nor moneys for me to visit the exhibition itself.⁴ It is thus a show about specific, yet geographically disparate, spatial experiences that were aligned in a curatorial, conceptual space before unfolding in the highly contested political space that is Kosovo. This juxtaposition of spatialities at the heart of the project: specific, locally-rooted, conceptual and abstracted mirrors a larger question raised by the project: while neoliberalism is a globally ubiquitous phenomenon—and should no doubt be tactically approached as such—its local instantiations are marked by distinct spatial practices and historically-specific contexts as well as resistances.
2 Two readings in particular informed my research into the politics of space in Kosovo: Rita Augestad Knudsen. “Privatization in Kosovo: The International Project 1999–2008.” Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, September 17, 2010 and Andrew Herscher. Violence Taking Place: The Architecture
of the Kosovo Conflict. 1st edition. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press, 2010.
3 For my 2006 exhibition Land Grab for apexart in New York. 4 The opacity of the decisions by foundations not to fund the project in Kosovo is an ironic parallel to the project’s subject matter.
Liquidation / Pg. 9 / Sarah Lookofsky
Transnational translation & misrecognition When discussing the project at the beginning of 2012, I recall that Albert Heta noted that he found it remarkable during a recent visit to New York, the city in which I live, that lobbies and corridors in office buildings can serve as accessible passageways through the urban grid. This experience stood out to him as a foreign visitor as a unique instance of public access to privately-owned space. The comment tellingly overlapped with the Occupy Movement, which saw a privately-owned public space (POPS in common nomenclature) occupied by protesters who were eventually evicted by the private landlord (by a public police force), thus evincing the only nominal public status of such spaces. I bring up this example because, not only does it exemplify how everyday experience of so-called public space can misrecognize its restricted, exclusionary nature, but also because the juxtaposition of different international instances of privatization can result in transnational, translational misunderstandings; the spatial experience of “publicness,” in other words, can be deceptive. While neoliberalism on the one hand entails increasing spatial uniformity (as seen in the aesthetics of the shopping mall, the airport terminal, the privately-owned public park, etc.), its spatial manifestations around the world are at the same time locally distinct. The exhibition brings together a range of practices from around the world that address privatization in relation to spatial experience. The fact of the compilation of such disparate sites, I realize, risks similar translational misunderstandings. ¶ I met with Alban Muja, an artist from Kosovo, in New York in May of 2012. He gave an overview of his practice and one piece was particularly memorable: an image of a group of young boys,⁵ all named Tonyblair, since Tony Blair is considered a hero (along with Bill Clinton) as a result of international intervention in the war. This piece stuck with me, since it points to the specificity of privatization and international takeover in Kosovo—and the misrecognition that has periodically arisen throughout the project when confronting privatization and neoliberalism in Kosovo from an American leftist perspective (in which Blair and Clinton are commonly cast as a neoliberal figureheads).
Liquidation / Pg. 11 / Sarah Lookofsky
Distance Learning At the doctor’s office at some point in 2013, I was leafing through an issue of the Economist and came across an “investor’s event” in Vienna, devoted to the privatization of a ski resort in Kosovo. The logo image of the ski resort, and the codification of this specific place in Kosovo as an international investment opportunity, communicated for a foreign readership, perversely echoed my long-distance curatorial investment in the place. ¶ Liquidation’s concentration on ideas of opacity and invisibility strikingly intersected with several shocking news stories that unfolded alongside to the project’s planning phase. Most prominently was the suspicious death of Dino Asanaj, Kosovo’s privatization chief—an alleged suicide performed with 11 self-administered stabs with a kitchen knife in Asanaj’s Pristina office.⁶ Similarly shocking were news reports of bidding on formerly socially-owned companies in Kosovo on the part of the private companies of key political and military characters during the war, such as Wesley Clark and Madeleine Albright.⁷ Bringing these examples together—the likely covered-up murder and the clandestine bidding of former figures of state—exemplifies the pairing of extralegal with unjust neoliberal legal measures that are frequently central to rapid privatization in Kosovo and elsewhere.
Core works Two pieces in the exhibition reference infamous instances of privatization. Andreas Siekmann’s practice has consistently addressed the contemporary capitalist economy. In order to render complex economic processes comprehensible for the average spectator, he employs pictograms developed at the beginning of the 20th century. Treuhand und die unsichtbare Hand (Pawns, Trustees and the Invisible Hand), 2005–2008 gives form to the
5 Alban Muja, Tonys, 2010 6 “Kosovo privatization chief’s death ruled suicide.” In SETimes, June 16, 2012. 7 See, for instance, Matthew Brunwasser. “Americans Who Helped Free Kosovo Return as Entrepreneurs.” The New York Times, December 11, 2012, sec. World/Europe and Stephen Suleyman Schwartz. “‘Privatizing’ Kosovo: The Madeleine Albright Way.” Gatestone Institute. International Policy Council, December 26, 2012. Albright’s company subsequently withdrew its bids due to widespread criticism.
swift privatization of 14,000 East German companies between 1990 and 1994, making palpable and visible the winners and losers of this wide-sweeping transfer of public assets that would later serve as a model for aggressive privatization schemes elsewhere. Patricio Larrambebere’s collaborative project ABTE (The Edmondson Ticketing Society) addresses the privatization of public entities and industry during the government of Carlos. S. Menem in Argentina during the 1990s. In particular, his work takes on the privatization of the country’s rail system, looking to the nation’s 170 years of rail history in the process. Devoting their artistic labor to parts of the system that were left in disrepair or entirely cut off from the country’s larger transportation network, ABTE has covertly resurrected the signs of past infrastructure, such as informational graphics, ticketing machines, etc., thereby addressing how the dissolution of past public systems affect personal and collective memory. ¶ In juxtaposition to these international instances, two pieces referenced the local context for privatization in Kosovo. For Pristina, rather than sitting passively on the wall, Fatmir Mustafa’s oil-on-canvas painting O Hajn (You Thief, in English) confronted the viewer with an accusation, thereby emphasizing that simply existing in another’s space necessarily raises questions of ownership and territory. Returning to the complex historical frame of ownership in the region, for the exhibition in Zagreb, Alban Muja’s Blue Wall Red Door (2010) follows a postal worker as he tries to deliver mail in Kosovo. Given the incessant renaming of places as result of the locale’s repeated shifts in power in recent history, citizens do not know the official names of the streets they inhabit. Sites in Pristina are therefore often in popular parlance named after previous establishments and owners, despite the fact that they often no longer are to be found in those locations. ¶ Moving from the concrete to the abstract, emphasizing the uniforming mechanisms of neoliberalism, two works in the exhibition serve to illustrate what neoliberal space actually looks and feels like. Adopting the semiotics of construction materials (yellow vests, wood planks, orange tape), John Hawke inserts structures, at once familiar and strange, into urban space. The signifiers of official construction suggest authority and ownership, while their unusual configurations provoke curiosity and invite occupation (previous structures have taken the forms of shelters, benches, monuments). The structures seek to reveal prevailing spatial configurations, while temporarily proposing alternate configurations and rights of use. For the exhibition in Kosovo, Hawke produced decals for police cars in Pristina. Matching the official graphic identity of the public police force, he inserted fictitious language that indicated that the police force, too, had been privatized, now operated by a private company. At the same time that the police force is perhaps the last “public service” to remain truly public, the piece also alludes to the growing number of private security guards hired to control public spaces. For the Zagreb iteration of the exhibition, Hawke covertly inserted a monumentto-be as well as signs announcing future “smart card readers” in a square in the city in a gesture that mimics the increasing confusion of public and private space. Martha Rosler’s In the Place of the Public, 2013, a series that
Liquidation / Pg. 13 / Sarah Lookofsky
is ongoing since the 1980s, represents the spaces of airline travel: terminals, runways, waiting rooms, etc. As privately owned spaces for public transit, restricted from the majority of the world’s population, they in effect image the spaces of neoliberalism: uniform, international, securitized and mostly off-limits.
dation Liquidation / Pg. 15 / Ana Kovačić, Sanja Sekelj, Lea Vene
But something has happened to make this apparent surplus army increasingly visible not only to capital, but to itself. Almost as if a long forgotten crypt had split open; the dead, the redundant laborers, the excess population, is now speaking, visualizing itself, and asserting a new form of collectivism that is also an old form of collectivism. Gregory Sholette, Dark Matter
We were invited to take part in the Liquidation project in February, 2013 by the director of Stacion—Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina, Albert Heta, owing to the fact that the Croatian case is often emphasized by opposition parties and activist groups in Kosovo—as a country that is starting to re-question the privatization processes. Although there have been little tangible changes, the achievements reached so far are nonetheless significant. The often-mentioned example of the Flower square and Varšavska Street are case-in-point: two buildings on a block in the center of Zagreb were sold to a private investor who intended to tear them down and, in their place, build a shopping mall with luxury apartments and office spaces, both of which would also profit from an underground garage—the entrance of which would take up almost the entirety of Varšavska Street, which was a strictly pedestrian zone. ¶ The General Urbanistic Plan (GUP) was inconsistent and vague, so it allowed, from the start, different ad hoc interpretations and was even changed during that period to serve the investors’ interests. Civil society associations, notably Right to the City and Green Action, started to inform the public of what was being done and analyze certain inconsistencies as early as 2006. The action culminated in 2010 with massive protests which included not only civil society associations, students, and leftist groups, but as diverse a strata and age group as possible. Even though the shopping mall and the parking ramp were ultimately built, the organizers of the struggle don’t see it as a complete failure, since what was achieved is a certain public awareness of the city as public property and that the government should manage it accordingly. ¶ Since then, we can see a surge of public displays of dissatisfaction, which stems, at least partially, from the growing awareness of the neoliberalization of cities on a global scale and of the way the city functions in a capitalist system; but also from the realization that the government usually works on the side of capital, instead of its citizens. Since then, we have also seen a growing number of cultural workers engaging in the subject in one way or another, including themselves in the surplus army that is fighting on the battleground for the city. ¶ The starting point for the exhibition in Miroslav Kraljević Gallery in Zagreb was the curatorial concept of Sarah Lookofsky, which, by including artists from different backgrounds, wanted to show that this process is ubiquitous and, although it is not always visible, can nevertheless be made intelligible through artistic practices. This concept in the new context was further strengthened by the fact that the beginnings of privatization in Croatia can be traced back to the beginning of the 90s, a period which was also marked by the dissolution of Yugoslavia and war. ¶ At this point, former social ownership and the collective means of production were transferred to the state—and later private owners—in a rather uncontrolled and wild mode of privatization, perhaps, in part, to acquire money for growing war expenditures. At the same time, the public received partial and hazy explanations of what privatization is, learning only that this process will help with the integration of the country into the West, and that this will bring success to each and every citizen. In other words, the process of privatization was presented as serving the public
Liquidation / Pg. 17 / Ana Kovačić, Sanja Sekelj, Lea Vene
interest, but in the end, only a few selected individuals profited. While we can agree that, in some cases, it can be difficult to discern whether an action could have largely beneficial or negative consequences on society as a whole, time has shown that these “hastily” made decisions have had a catastrophic impact on citizen life. ¶ Most of the Croatian artists and/or researchers that were added to the original concept were chosen based on their previous engagement with the subject, but produced new works for this occasion. Each artwork deals with a specific aspect of the process or with specific, local consequences of one example; but they all have in common a certain approach to the subject and a methodology of working. For example, Bojan Mucko’s reports vividly show the methodology and modes of research through which an artist has to engage in order to investigate certain issues regarding privatization policies (in his case, the focus was on the State Administrative Office for State Property Management or DUUDI ¹ ). DUUDI, whose local function is usually quite incomprehensible, rather low-key, and outside of broader public discussion, is being examined through firsthand experience. ¶ Under the guise of a potential leaser, Bojan Mucko roams through rentable State business spaces in the center of Zagreb. He has documented the physicality of the spaces, the remains of some previous owners, and its current derelict state. Many of the spaces are completely neglected by DUUDI and, consequently, also by the potential leasers. Bojan Mucko collected his impressions in an essayistic textual form and merged it with photographs taken in the spaces while parallely investigating the modes of visual communication DUUDI uses to approach Croatian citizens. ¶ Ultimately, he summed up his research experience and directed a critique and several constructive propositions to DUUDI. All of his complaints were regarded as unacceptable, which is symptomatic for this context. There is a vivid discrepancy between the ambitious leasing plans of DUUDI (symbolically presented as a skyscraper silhouette printed on the open calls for leasing of the State spaces) and their actual practices on the micro level in the city of Zagreb. This project is an important step toward spurring public awareness to the methods through which the State manipulates these business spaces, and therefore, shapes its future purposes and functions within the lively urban tissue.
1 Državni ured za upravljanje državnom imovinom.
The Aftermath of Privatizations The story of the factory, Jugoplastika, in Split, presented in the exhibition by the OUR collective (Alemka Đivoje, Dalibor Prančević, Robertina Tomić), serves as an example of what has been said about the beginnings of privatization in Croatia. Presented in the form of a timeline, this perennial research project follows the history of the factory from its foundation in 1952, to the disjunction of the factory into smaller production units “that could adapt to the market conditions more easily,” in 1991, and the bankruptcy proceedings in 2000, to the physical demolition of the factory building in 2004. The timeline is a combination of historical facts that are accompanied by citations and short texts from newspapers of the time and give a general impression of prosperity and advancement in the Yugoslav period followed by incompetence and the corruption of the political elite after 1991. ¶ Furthermore, the timeline gives a detailed, although speculative, count of the workers in the factory, which was around 12,000 in 1990, and decreased to 200 employees with another 2,000 on forced leave in the year 2000.² Another piece of information that describes this period and process in general is an opinion expressed in an article from 2004, which states that the conditions of the downfall of Jugoplastika are still not fully known and understood: some think it was its magnitude and inability to adapt to global market conditions, some say the cause was an uncontrolled import from the Far East, and others say that the changing of the name from Jugoplastika to Diokom in 1994 resulted in the loss of recognition for an otherwise well-known brand. After the demolition, the empty plot was “rejuvenated” with a new residential and business complex, leaving thousands of people unemployed. ¶ Aside from archival research, the OUR collective explores the functioning of the factory and its persisting presence in memory through direct meetings and conversations with former workers of Jugoplastika, participatory events, and performative actions. Their activity and research shows that Jugoplastika is still very much present in the memory of the local people, so their nostalgia could be used as means of activation and future engagement. ¶ The OUR collective often states that Jugoplastika’s fate could be considered typical for the period of the 90s. The factory followed a path that many others went through as well: transformation-privatization-rehabilitation-bancrupcy-liquidation. What happened after this process, not only in Croatia but throughout the Western world, is the displacement of classic industry to the global south, which, in turn, leaves an excess workforce in the industry’s original location—a workforce that is now subjugated to any and every exploiting work condition. These
Liquidation / Pg. 19 / Ana Kovačić, Sanja Sekelj, Lea Vene
extremely controlled and sometimes even degrading work conditions are the subject of Rafaela Dražić’s exhibit, Work Control Supervisors, which explores a certain aspect of the functioning of the shipyard, Brodosplit— another case from Split. ¶ The installation is comprised of seven photographs of uniformed women who work as work-control supervisors in the shipyard, and a simple booklet that contains newspaper articles about a recent workers’ strike in Brodosplit. Thanks to the booklet, the spectator becomes aware of key moments from the recent history of the shipyard: the pressure from the European Union to resolve the problem of the shipyard before the 1st of July, 2013, the pompous coming of the new private owner who, until that time, had no experience in handling such a big business, and the promise of a larger production rate… with no client in sight. And this is where the workers’ strike comes in: presented in the mainstream media as a clatter of a few lazy and disgruntled workers who wanted higher paychecks. Upon closer examination, however, the real problem seems to be the extreme adherence to efficiency to which the workers are subdued. ¶ The private owner opened up a female-only job position, whose function was to keep an eye on how efficiently the other workers were working and how many breaks they were taking—including how long it takes them to go to the bathroom or to have a drink of water. The difference between their efficiency and inefficiency could then be calculated, thanks to the videoimages the work control supervisors recorded with the cameras in their surveillance rings, and the findings would affect the monthly paycheck of an individual worker. Since the surveillance rings also have a GPS system installed, the owner controls the efficiency of the female work-control supervisors, and their paycheck is thus calculated based on how many kilometers they pass in one month. ¶ Aside from leaving an excess of workforce, deindustrialization through privatization also leaves an excess of vacant space in city centers. Only a couple of decades ago, these spaces (areas of former industry complexes) were crucial to the city’s level of production: labor organized in the industry also produced spaces of social relevance, such as social housing for workers and their families, schools, hospitals, and places of leisure (parks, youth centers, etc.). In most cases, these areas are now privatized or still waiting for a private “savior.” The production has ceased and the degraded industry buildings stand as testament to a sinful, socialist past, which will now be absolved by “the almighty market.” ¶ Iva Marčetić’s booklet, We Used to Make Shit in this Country: Towards the City of Leisure by Way of Creative Destruction, speaks of these processes through an analysis of the port city of Rijeka, which makes them all the more striking and accessible. By looking through the spatial development plans for Rijeka, the question of the future organization of this (and any other) city suddenly becomes even more present: how will the city
2 Different journalists present in the time-line give a different estimate of how many workers Jugoplastika employed—the numbers range from eleven thousand to a little more then thirteen thousand.
evolve and how will it respond to the requirements of the capitalist order? Whose interests will be looked after in this process? And the answer emerges from the text of the booklet: most of the “vacant” spaces in Rijeka will be sold to private investors and are intended for deluxe housing and business complexes, shopping malls, and a cultural enclave here and there to spice up the city’s touristic offer. ¶ At the same time, city officials propagandize Rijeka as a city “which is not ‘contaminated’ by its industry; a city of culture, technological innovation, promenades, palm trees, expensive views, and leisure.” In this way, they justify 30,000 lost jobs and publicly funded investments in the city infrastructure which, ultimately, serves only tourists and a small percentage of locals who are able to afford the benefits of this redefined city. ¶ This case study of Rijeka makes the counterintuitive logic behind this process blatantly visible: the alteration of the city landscape by way of closing factories—all in the name of a better life and living environment the people will have—produces spaces of leisure that cannot function alone; that is, this logic fails to take into account that, in order for a city to function as a living and evolving organism, it is important to equally distribute both spaces of production and of leisure. The citizens are, from that point, treated as consumers, provided of course, that they can actually afford this new lavishness. One cannot but feel inclined to make comparisons with similar situations in the socialist period, which was marked by enormous growth in tourism, especially visible in the mass development of hotel complexes along the Adriatic coastline. ¶ These touristic spots were initially envisioned and used for many years as spaces of leisure for both tourists and locals often functioning as important places of social interaction. Now they are stuck in the process of privatization, readily awaiting an ambitious foreign investor to nullify the past spatial and social roles, and turn them into exclusive and luxurious resorts. In this period of waiting, many of them are ruined beyond the point of repair. For his photographic project, Adriatic Postcards, Bojan Mrđenović visits some of the abandoned hotel complexes along the Adriatic coast (Malinska, Primošten, Kupari, Dubrovnik, and Jelsa) and documents their current, devastated state. Bojan Mrđenović captures a broader spatial context within which it is possible to understand the relationship between hotels, the natural environment, and the urban landscape. He uses a form of anti-postcards visualizing oftentimes hidden images of this touristic paradise. These images offer the view of a reality that is utterly different than the one usually shown in official touristic promotional materials. Adriatic postcards witness the current state of in-betweenness, still waiting for their future owner. ¶ The final piece in the show was a series of workshops for high-school students, conceptualized by Dina Rončević. The idea of workshops stems, in one part, from the curatorial concept of the show that is based on the research done by Institute Ivo Pilar at the end of the 90s, which shows that over 50% of interviewed people knew only some basic things about privatization and that they received their information mainly from mainstream media. Over a decade later, Dina Rončević’s project showed how painstaking it could be to tackle this theme from
Liquidation / Pg. 21 / Ana Kovačić, Sanja Sekelj, Lea Vene
scratch. The other root of the project was the fact that even though most of the high-school students are deprived of basic civic education, they are expected to assume their civic responsibilities immediately after turning 18. ¶ Dina’s workshops thus tried to raise consciousness toward privatization and the different forms it can take among young citizens, future voters, and possible active participants by questioning the public sphere in order to trigger their active involvement in public debates. Students were encouraged to discuss specific local issues with activist organizations such as Right to the City, BRID, and Transparency International. Towards the end of the workshop, they started to become more and more interested in the idea of being a part of the process of creating a frontier to defend the public space with which we have been left. Rončević´s workshop was a perfect example of the core of our idea for this project in the beginning: trying to entangle loose ends in our notion of the privatization process in Croatia, make sense of the aftermath, and think of ways to make a difference.
Iva Marčetić’s analysis of the urban situation in Rijeka plainly shows how culture is also being commoditized in the capitalist system. The cultural sphere offers cities a means by which they can become more visible and competitive in the short run, a way by which they can attract future investors and offer a cornucopia of still unspoiled “resources.” In this new order of things, cultural workers themselves face the imposition of being more competitive and being able to face the challenges of the market. Culture should not burden an already small State budget. ¶ Again, it was interesting for us to consider this new situation and compare it with the previous period, since G-MK was founded as a part of it, and is still a part of the cultural-artistic organization of workers of the oil company, INA. That being so, the Liquidation exhibition was done with the former social relevance of culture in mind: it is seen as a means and possibility of the political emancipation of citizens; a content that is available to anyone and everyone; a product that has a different kind of value than what is recognized by the market. Consequently, the gallery is seen as a place for discussion and participation—in short, we see its purpose as having the obligation to support and encourage the potentials of the community it serves.
logue Liquidation / Pg. 23 / Exhibition
Liquidation / Pg. 25 / Exhibition Catalogue
Alban Muja (b. 1980, Kosova) with Yll Citaku Blue Wall Red Door, 2010.
Each Figure: 1000 Dismantled Fiduciary Holding Agency Companies
Liquidation / Pg. 27 / Exhibition Catalogue
Agriculture and Forestry
Nuclear Power Indust
Each Figure: 100,000 Employees
Andreas Siekmann (b. 1960, Germany) Pawns, Trustees and the Invisible Hand, 2005 – 2008.
Liquidation / Pg. 29 / Exhibition Catalogue
Martha Rosler (b. 1943, USA) In the Place of the Public, 2013.
Liquidation / Pg. 31 / Exhibition Catalogue
“NEKAD SMO NEKOG KURCA I PROIZVODILI U OVOJ ZEMLJI” * Kreativnom destrukcijom do grada dokolice
“WE USED TO MAKE SHIT IN THIS COUNTRY”
*Towards the city of leisure by way of creative destruction
Iva Marčetić (b. 1982., Croatia) “We used to build shit in this country”: Towards the city of leisure by way of creative destruction, 2014.
Liquidation / Pg. 33 / Exhibition Catalogue
OUR (Alemka Đivoje, Dalibor Prančević, Robertina Tomić) Jugoplastika: indeterminately, 2014.
Liquidation / Pg. 35 / Exhibition Catalogue
Patricio Larrambebere (b. 1968, Argentina) with Javier Martínez Jacques, Ezequiel Semo, Gachi Rosati, Javier Barrio, Martín Guerrero Typographical Action Coghlan 110th Anniversary, 2001. Juan B. Justo (I Like white), 2002.
Liquidation / Pg. 37 / Exhibition Catalogue
Rafaela Dražić (b. 1981, Croatia) Work Control Supervisors, 2014.
REPORT FOR MIROSLAV KRALJEVIĆ GALLERY REGARDING THE ACTIVITIES OF THE STATE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE FOR STATE PROPERTY MANAGEMENT _for april
Liquidation / Pg. 39 / Exhibition Catalogue
IZVJEŠTAJ GALERIJI MIROSLAV KRALJEVIĆ O RADU DRŽAVNOG UREDA ZA UPRAVLJANJE DRŽAVNOM IMOVINOM _za travanj
Zagreb 2014 Bojan Mucko (b. 1983, Croatia) Report for Miroslav Kraljević Gallery regarding the activities of the State Administrative Office for State Property Management_for april, 2014.
Liquidation / Pg. 41 / Exhibition Catalogue
Bojan Mrđenović (b. 1987, Croatia) Adriatic Postcards, 2014.
Bed Time Stories — Privatization Some of the starting questions for the workshop were what is public and what is private? What is privatization? Why are some privatization processes harmful or good for the society? Who profits from them if not society? What can be privatized? Who decides on that? What can society do? How to get informed and activated? A lack of understanding of the privatization processes and a number of unanswered questions serve as the starting point for my project. In the first meeting, I made a presentation of conditions that allow bad privatization outcomes to happen and, on the other hand, showed examples and talked about commercialization and gentrification. By the end of the first session, children started asking questions. They wanted to know whether there were any privatization processes with good outcomes. How governments could allow liquidations to repeat from one situation to another? They asked how they could get involved and what they could do. In the following days, we focused on answering these questions. In the second lecture, I introduced Marina Ivandić from BRID (Base for Worker’s Initiative and Democratization) and Mario Iveković from Novi Sindikat, a Worker’s Union president. Both discussed concrete privatization processes and answered some of the basic issues specific to the Croatian context. The third session was led by Tomislav Domes, a Pravo na grad (Right to the city) activist whom we met on Cvjetni trg (Flower Square) in Zagreb, a place that became significant for activist and citizen protests against the privatization of public space. We were given insight into the processes in motion, the different means of struggle, and the diversity of ways in which citizens are excluded from decision-making and urban planning for the city as a whole. At the moment, Croatia is implementing a civic education program in the school curriculum, so it is no wonder that the gallery is the space in which children asked how to become politically active. In order to answer their remaining questions, I invited the fourth guest, Ivona Mendeš, executive director of Transparency International Croatia. She presented ways of becoming more active, spoke about different levels of involving youth into decision making processes, and laid out problems that could be in front of them as a result of there being no established educational system that provides the answers in place — and further pointed out the need for individual initiatives and a complete reconstruction of the system. High school children want to be a part of the society and have an active role in decision making on a civic level. They should have a platform for that kind of development, as their own roles in society are being securely established. “Drinking coffee in a shopping mall is a form of socializing,” says one of them, not understanding the notion of a public character taken out from that space. None of them recognizes or even knows gentrification, as it is becoming a seemingly normal process of a city’s development which they are witnessing without questioning it. There has to be platforms for the youth to get involved, understand, interact, and intervene. We cannot have a healthy social environment if we don’t practice that exact engagement. Like any other practice, this one has its own language, which is to be learned through listening, learning, and interacting. It is not something children understand just because they are old enough to vote. It should be taught and practiced from a very young age. It should be a part of coloring books, school activities, and even bed-time stories.
Liquidation / Pg. 43 / Exhibition Catalogue
Dina Rončević (b. 1984, Croatia) Bed Time Stories — Privatization
Liquidation / Pg. 45 / Exhibition Catalogue
John Hawke (b. 1968, USA) Orange Work, 2014.
Liquidation / Pg. 47 / Exhibition Catalogue
William Linn with curatorial team Liquidation / Exhibition, May 2 – 31, 2014, Zagreb, Croatia
Liquidation / Pg. 49 / Content
51 Introduction & Programme 55 Domagoj Mihaljević / The Limbo of Everyday Croatian Life: between the ruins of the factory chimneys and the dust of European stars 63 Milenko Srećković / Deindustrialization and Workers’ Resistance in Serbia 69 Emin Eminagić / Protests and Plenums as Sites of Education 75 Nik Theodore, Neil Brenner, Jamie Peck / Cities under market rule 81 Volker Eick / The Urban as Prey and Entrepreneur Neoliberalization of Public Space and Services 93 John Hawke / Productive Confusion and Interventionist Art 105 OUR (A. Đivoje, D. Prančević, R. Tomić) / Conversational Fragments with Jugoplastika Protagonists 115 Mario Kikaš / The Art of Working on the Organization 123 Bojan Mucko / Report for Miroslav Kraljevic Gallery Regarding the Activities of the State Administrative Office Report for Miroslav Kraljevic Gallery Regarding the Activities of the State Administrative Office for State Property Management_for April
The two-day conference was made with conceptual participation from Mario Kikaš, Tomislav Medak, the Multimedia Institut (MI2), and G-MK Team, to bring together a number of participating artists, relevant experts and theoreticians, and activists. Inspired by the Stacion — Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina project partnership, the conference is envisioned to serve as a platform for discussing neoliberal privatization with the attempt to draw connections between the processes as experienced both internationally and locally, thereby sharing the experience of struggle for public space in disparate sites, as well as discussing certain artworks showcased in the exhibit
Liquidation / Pg. 51 / Introduction & Programme
Saturday, 3. 5. 2014 10.00 — 10.45 Those Who Make Revolution Halfway … Boris Buden 10.45 — 11.45 Discussion 12.00 — 14.00 The Primitive Accumulation and Industrial Action in the Ex-Yugoslav Countries Domagoj Mihaljević (Baza za radničku inicijativu i demokratizaciju) Milenko Srećković (Pokret za slobodu) Emin Eminagić (Front slobode) 16.00 — 16.45 Urban Ideologies and the Critique of Neoliberal Urbanization Neil Brenner (Graduate School of Design, Harvard University) 16.45 — 17.45 Discussion 18.00 — 20.00 The Enclosures of Space, The Resistances of the Public Teo Celakoski (Pravo na grad) John Hawke Volker Eick (Freie Universität Berlin)
Sunday, 4. 5. 2014 11.30 Guided tour of the exhibition, At Your Service — Art and Labor in the Technical Museum in Zagreb 15.00 — 18.00 The Afterlives of Labor Bojan Mucko Milijana Babić Mario Kikaš OUR (Alemka Đivoje, Dalibor Prančević, Robertina Tomić)
Liquidation / Pg. 53 / Introduction & Programme
Over the last quarter of century, the countries of former Yugoslavia have seen the wholesale transfer of social ownership of the collective means of production and subsistence into the hands of the free market and private capital. Companies, banks, housing stock, higher education, health, natural resources, public space, and infrastructure have been submitted to repeated rounds of marketization, commodification, and privatization. The re-alignment to full-blown liberal capitalism, which started in the late 80s with the structural adjustment programs that were supposed to end the enduring crisis of the Yugoslav social and economic model, and then further spurred by the vitriol of ethnic conflict and war in the 90s, had been legitimated by a promise of progress that the integration into the capitalist world-system would bring to everyone. It was a promise of normalized trickle-down capitalist progress that would paradoxically ensue after the end of history. But now that the crisis of 2008 has shown that the emperor is naked; that the capital cannot expand and reproduce without deepening social divisions across the global capitalist territory and, that under this regime of supposed equal opportunities, some face lasting prospects of poverty and destitution in which the continuous accumulation by privatization is showing its corrosive impact. ¶ The competition between society and capital over the resources is unfolding both where the potentials of sociality are intense: in public spaces, mass education, and public services, and where the potentials of sociality were eviscerated: evicted buildings, closed factories, and street-side shops. Accumulation by privatization parasites the potentials of sociality, but its workings are frequently arcane and impersonal. The exhibition, Liquidation, interrogates how privatization, although not always visible, can nevertheless be made intelligible through artistic, social, and political practices. The conference will bring together participating artists, prominent scholars and intellectuals, and activists from the region who have been opposing privatizations, in order to reflect on these processes and the prospects of contestations from previous years that have spawned throughout the region. Tomislav Medak, From the opening text for the conference
The Limbo Everyday C Life: betwe ruins of the chimneys a of European
of Croatian een the e factory and the dust an stars Liquidation / Pg. 55 / Domagoj Mihaljević
When talking about industry, we should start the discussion noting the lines that indicate why it is important for a country to have a stable industrial base. Industrial development is important because it represents the key mechanism of fast and efficient economic development. When an industrial base is developed, the technical basis for the development of other branches is stronger and broader. It enables the industrialized country to avoid dependence on imported products and, therefore, exploitation by economically advanced countries by reducing trade deficit. It also secures stable jobs for both highly-educated and non-college-educated workers and is the source of greater indirect employment in other economic sectors. It is the key driver of innovation because without manufacturing, research and design will not thrive. ¶ We often hear that a new economy should be based on developing the creative industries, but the source of its development is nonetheless disregarded. Professions in creative industries such as design (graphic, fashion, product), architecture, marketing, computer games etc., only add symbolic value to the primary products of other industries. Without a developed and healthy metal, wood, textile, and chemical industry, creative industries will not excel.
Disintegration of Yugoslavia In the last twenty years in Croatia, one government after another has been destroying industrial plants and creating dependent relationships with the European economic centers that encouraged opening the market for their commercial and financial products. If we take a look at Yugoslavia’s past, we observe how the process of industrialization was the main driving force of economic development and social modernization over the decades. It enabled Yugoslavia to close the development gap between themselves and the developed Western countries. However, Yugoslavia did not avoid the disintegrating contradictions that emerged from the integration of a selfmanaging market system into the global accumulation of capital. ¶ During the global economic crisis of the seventies, Yugoslavia’s economy accumulated a debt of 20 billion dollars to keep its economic growth in motion and to secure its rising standard of living. With the neoliberal turn marked by Richard Nixon and Margaret Thatcher’s rise to power, and by the huge rise of interest rates that ensued in late seventies, Yugoslavia’s economy faced extremely adverse conditions. The International Monetary Fund, as the collective agent of strengthened financial capital, entered the economic scene and pressured the federal government to restructure the economy in order to pay the debts. ¶ The federal government signed a stand-by agreement
Liquidation / Pg. 57 / Domagoj Mihaljević
in 1983 with IMF and imposed strict austerity measures aimed at accumulating foreign currency in order to repay international loans. What followed was a decade of disastrous consequences. Yugoslavia’s economy began to increasingly lag behind the developed industrial countries. Workers’ strikes and social discontent spread, leading to mutual accusations of republican leaderships and the rise of nationalism. Ultimately, nationalism proved to be an effective method for republican elites to take control over escalating social dissatisfaction and maintain power. ¶ As the Yugoslav state started to fall apart in bloody war in 1991, this political development also marked the beginning of a new ideological discourse that soon revealed to be in opposition to economic realty. Even before the war started, the Croatian nationalist political elite, with the aim to politically position itself strongly before the population, promised a higher living standard: integration with western economies, market liberalization, upcoming technological development, access to capital markets, and bathing in consumer abundance. Besides the promise of the upcoming European dawn of new prosperity and progress, the political elite also developed the new discourse on nation, Europe, citizens, and human rights. The whole apparatus was employed in order to convince the public that, after a decade-long period of austerity in the eighties, a bright economic future in Europe was on the rise. As a result, many people rightly expected the opening of new jobs, higher wages, and ultimately, the living standard of Western Europe.
Destruction of the Industrial Base However, economic continuity to the 1980s in Yugoslavia was preserved. Austerity programs of 1980s were supplemented with the privatization of self-managed enterprises and the liberalization of foreign trade. The process was carried out in such a way that the enterprises were actually distributed to politically loyal candidates who were systematically destroying acquired factories. New owners immediately engaged in the sale of material factors of business: machinery, buildings, offices, land, vehicles; i.e., all factors that could be quickly transformed into cash vanished. Instead of investing in a manufacturing process that did not seem rational due to war and loss of foreign markets, the new elite dismembered the Croatian industrial base piece by piece. ¶ Aside from the war and privatization process, the adoption of stabilization programs in 1993, under the supervision of the International Monetary Fund, had devastating effects, not only for the industrial base, but for the whole economy. Although this program was primarily focused on the rapid suppression of hyperinflation, it had the wider
neoliberal agenda of promoting privatization, severe financial consolidation (reflected primarily in stagnation or even reduction of wages), and economic dependence on developed Western economies. ¶ Stabilization programs curbed inflation but established an appreciated exchange rate which made imports cheaper and domestic production less competitive. With an uncompetitive industry and the accelerated disappearance of industrial jobs, the development of service sectors ensued. Economy was restructured from industrial to service. The appreciated exchange rate is sustained to this day with dire consequences for the industry. While industrial production in 1988 contributed 41 percent to the GDP and provided jobs for 36 percent of the employed population, in 2010 (latest data available) it contributed only 17 percent to the GDP and, in 2013, secured jobs for only 20 percent of the employed population. In the same period (1988–2010), contributions to the GDP from the service sector rose from 25 to 58 percent while the employment ratio rose from 49 percent in 1989 to 70 percent in 2013. ¶ The nineties in Croatia were thus marked by the rise of neoliberal capitalism in a nationalist wrapping, resulting in the destruction of industrial production, disappearances of jobs, the dramatic rise of unemployment, and a sharp expansion of poverty. The escalation of nationalism and military operations became instruments of the shock doctrine, a suitable historical portal that enabled the smooth implementation of the fundamental principles of the neoliberal paradigm: the privatization of social property, liberalization of trade, and deregulation of the financial sector. In the end, domestic and international political and economic relations pushed the industry to open space for destructive forces. Foreign markets were wiped out by the shock doctrine of neoliberal capitalism; Yugoslavia’s market was blown up by bombs, a necessary renovation of the neoliberal Stabilization program. Ultimately, industrial plants were liquidated by bankruptcies.
Liquidation / Pg. 59 / Domagoj Mihaljević
Debt-led European Future After a decade under nationalist-conservative rule, in 2000, social-democrats rose to power. There were great expectations which were followed by even greater disappointments. The new government did not turn to any kind of revitalization of production and immediately agreed to the dictates of global capital in the process of joining the international economic institutions. Accession to the World Trade Organization (2000) effectively meant even stronger liberalization of trade flows and the harsh competition for destroyed domestic companies. The government signed the Stand-By agreement with the IMF (2001, 2003, 2004), committing itself to implement fiscal consolidation, flexible work relations, and the continuation of the privatization process. The Croatian government agreed to the strict rules of global capitalism and, in turn, gained access to capital markets, that is, Croatia won the right to be a debtor. ¶ The main driving force of growth became bank loans from the privatized banking sector. Loans were directed to finance consumer consumption. Consumption based on those bank loans generated economic growth until the outbreak of the crisis when the borrowing disappeared and the economy sank. Loans spurred the economy in the same way as the vision of future life in the civilized context of the European Union spurred optimism and middle class aspiration liberated from nationalist darkness, corrupt politicians, and cultural barbarism. In 2005, the negotiation process began with the European Union. ¶ The service sector rapidly spread in new political and economic circumstances, particularly retail trade which substituted the struggling industrial sector. The growth of retail trade and small and medium enterprises was thus a direct consequence of the disappearance of large manufacturing plants. Generously distributed bank loans also motivated developers and encouraged the flourishing of the construction sector. It led to the growth of entrepreneurial appetite for the transformation of any attractive land to a building site—especially land located along the coast line. Such macro-economic conditions had extremely negative implications for investment in industrial production. If a factory was located on an attractive location, owners were more interested in extinguishing production, closing jobs, and selling the real-estate as opposed to the long-term investment in industrial production with an uncertain market outcome and often low profits. However, when the financial crisis hit, the distribution of bank loans brought all construction activities to a halt and pushed many small and medium enterprises into bankruptcy. The financial crisis showed the extent of economic fragility in a model based on foreign-owned bank loans that solely financed consumption and construction.
Period of Crisis The Croatian economy has entered into its sixth consecutive year of recession. People are exhausted by the crisis, the increasing cost of living, and the growing misery and poverty, but the myth of a better future in the European Union is still being reinforced. It begs the question: after this disillusionment takes its toll, how strong will the disappointment (and rebellion) be? The political elite, even after joining the European Union, does not offer many reasons to put faith in the change of the downward trend. Political space only resonates with fiscal consolidation, flexibilization of labor relations, and the necessity of lowering wages. The aim is to attract foreign investors, but the question is in what to invest. ¶ With the law on strategic investments, the Government decided to offer potential investors basically all of the remaining assets in state ownership: forest land, agricultural land, public roads, etc., and after that, the privatization of natural monopolies (electricity and water) will probably follow. What this government does not complete, the next likely will. In addition to selling off public and natural resources, we occasionally hear voices arguing that the Croatian economy should become as that of Florida, but if Greece, Portugal, Spain, Cyprus, or Malta did not benefit so far from this economic model, from where comes the belief that Croatia will? ¶ What is essentially happening (or is going in that direction) could be called the kosovization of European periphery; a scenario in which the country is governed by technocrats while the society and economy disintegrate under corruption and kleptocracy. For now, the political situation is extremely grim and the population is passive and unable to organize, as if waiting for a spark that will ignite this accumulated discontent. Thus, the encounter with reality could be extremely unpredictable, especially when the media-constructed dreams fade away and the economic nightmare establishes itself as the everyday constant.
Liquidation / Pg. 61 / Domagoj Mihaljević
Deindustr and Worke Resistance
rialization ers’ ce in Serbia Liquidation / Pg. 63 / Milenko Srećković
Milenko Srećković, member of Pokret za slobodu (Freedom Fight Movement), based in Serbia
Thank you very much for the invitation and opportunity to speak with you. I will start by stating a few, mostly familiar, and at some level, obvious facts. ¶ Workers’ rights and all the gains that the working class has won in capitalist society are temporary and fragile, and right now, we’re witnessing the diminishing of workers’ rights in most of the countries of the world. In particular, we’re witnessing that the social inequality gap is increasingly widening. Before the collapse of socialist Yugoslavia, we arguably had much better workers’ rights than today–since socialist Yugoslavia was built on the idea of workers’ empowerment and communist ideals. It would be too much to go into discussion as to how many of those ideals were actually achieved in society at that time, so for now, we can put that question aside. ¶ Today, it is obvious that all of the countries that emerged after the collapse of Yugoslavia are in a difficult situation and share similar fates. The devastation of the industry in all cases was mostly done in similar methods that are still dominating the official economic policies, and we still have to fight against them. ¶ A great burden that hung over all of the republics was the Yugoslavian debt to the IMF. The economic difficulties that were caused by this debt were a strong reason for the collapse of Yugoslavia, but I’ll skip this question, too, since I’m supposed to talk about the Yugoslavian republic that I was born in, and that is Serbia. I will try to point out some of the key points in implementing these harsh capitalistic measures for restructuring the previous socialist society. ¶ One of the reasons that the extreme form of privatization in Serbia (and privatization in general) actually didn’t start in the 90s (during the regime of Slobodan Milošević) is because his official policy was never anti-communist. He was an opportunistic dictator who mixed different ideologies in order to help him to remain in power. He never used explicitly anti-communist ideology. Before he became President of Serbia, he was a prominent member of the Communist Party, and while he was in power, he never criticized the legacy of the communist period. He was a dictator in the sense that there was a lack of democracy and many election frauds during his regime, he had complete control over society, and his closest associates could make personal gains through misusing state budget, illegal trade, and criminal activities. ¶ During Milošević’s regime, political opposition—mostly funded by the West and the U.S.—was completely formed on anti-communist ideology. For example, in 1997, when opposition took over the power in the city of Belgrade, the first thing they did was to cut down all the communists’ symbols that decorated the city hall. Most of the opposition was made of much more extreme nationalists than Milošević himself and their struggle against the legacy of communism was based on the formula that any kind of privatization is better than social property and state ownership over the companies. ¶ During Milošević’s term, there were privatization laws, but privatization was not mandatory, and the form of privatization was not as severe as the one established after he was overthrown. It was the so-called insider privatization that gave the workers the opportunity to become the owners of their factories through worker/shareholder models, but there were not many privatized companies even by this manner. ¶ When this so-called democratic opposition took
Liquidation / Pg. 65 / Milenko Srećković
power in 2000, we saw what it meant to have “any kind of privatization.” Privatization by itself is of course based on theft but I’ll just describe how ruthless and irresponsible the type of privatization was that was conducted in Serbia by the new ruling coalition. ¶ Although Milošević was overthrown, privatization in Serbia since 2000 was mostly done by those who profited in illegal ways during the Milošević regime, and as a result of him and his ruling party. The Privatization Agency was not controlling the origin of the money of the people that were privatizing companies, that is how they earn this money. They mostly bought these companies—not because they planned to continue production—but for many other purposes like money laundering, real estate speculation, over-mortgaging, and so on. They would just get rid of the workers, declare the company bankrupt, and then sell the real estate. ¶ A recently arrested drug cartel boss was using privatization to launder the money made through selling narcotics. That’s why most of the privatized companies became bankrupt. Two thirds of the companies that were privatized were completely destroyed, of the 3,017 privatized companies, 2,000 ended up in bankruptcy or are on the verge of bankruptcy. In this process, some 600,000 workers lost their jobs. Of the 2.9 million people in the labor force, almost one million are without a job—or one third of the labor force. On average, 45,000 workplaces were closed per year. Many privatization contracts were cancelled, but mostly after the companies were devastated. ¶ State agencies that were implementing privatization completely ignored the workers who pointed out the problems that were caused by the privatization.
Workers’ Resistance The workers had to fight against these new owners since it was obvious that the act of privatization was just destroying the factories and laying off workers. There were many different forms of workers’ resistance, such as strikes, factory occupations, street protests, sit-ins in front of the Privatization agency, road and railroad blocks, and so on. Considering resistance, we couldn’t rely too much on the trade unions since they were either corrupt or ineffective. Most successful workers’ resistances were self-organized and conducted through so-called wildcat strikes; strikes that were not authorized by the trade unions but were based on striking boards directly elected by the workers and based on the decisions made by all of the workers of the company. My organization helped these striking boards to organize mutual protests in Belgrade because all of the state institutions are located in Belgrade, and without pressuring them, they
wouldn’t cancel these bad privatization deals. In many different ways— especially through appeals for public support—the workers managed to convince the public that privatization is not something that helps the economy, but actually destroys it. ¶ The new government started to investigate corruption and irregularities in the privatization, and right now, many of the owners who illegally used privatization for personal gains are being prosecuted by the state. The problem with the new government, however, is that they are maintaining the same economic policies. They continue to privatize companies, claiming that this time, they will do it in a more honest and legal way, which I think will have the same results as before, and that the devastation of industry and reduction of workers’ rights will persist. Time will tell what the outcome will be, but workers’ resistance to these kinds of measures will of course continue.
Liquidation / Pg. 67 / Milenko Srećković
Protes and Ple as Site of Educ
sts enums es cation Liquidation / Pg. 69 / Emin Eminagić
The protests by the workers of Tuzla’s privatized industry, which began on February 5th, were the start of something no one expected to see happen in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They were a reaction to the privatization of a number of Tuzla’s large companies, such as Konjuh, Dita, Resod-Guming, and Polihem, which, in the former Yugoslavia and first post-war years (1996–2000), were perceived as some of the main sources of income for the city and its region. Many people lost their jobs. This was the first protest of its kind in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the birth of a grassroots democratic movement which finds expression through citizens’ assemblies called plenums. The participants do not belong to the political elite, but are instead workers, students, the unemployed, and retirees—anyone who feels discontented with the state of affairs in the country. ¶ According to news sources, on the first day of the protests, 3,000 people took to the streets and occupied the two main roads in the city, halting traffic for several hours. Riot police were mobilized to disperse the protests as rocks were thrown at the Canton Government building. The situation continued to escalate over the next two days, which was marked by several episodes of state violence directed at citizens. For example, there is a video circulating the Internet, in which a police officer enters a university campus and pepper-sprays a student. On February 7th, over 10,000 people gathered in front of the Canton Government building and set it on fire, after which, the protests moved towards the Cantonal Court, which was hit by stones for several hours. Afterwards, people moved to the Municipality, which was also set on fire. The situation calmed down later in the evening when the police decided to join the protestors. ¶ What ensued in the following days and months after February 7th would prove to be the beginning of a true democratic movement. The movement established a platform through which people could engage in a learning process by rediscovering their own political voices, something that the ethno-nationalist elites in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina denied its citizens through constant threats of new wars and violence, thus alienating people from one another in an attempt to make them believe that the only possible sort of community was an ethnically exclusive one.
Liquidation / Pg. 71 / Emin Eminagić
The Plenums as a University The plenums became sites of freedom for the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. For the first time in almost two decades, people began to talk about new possibilities, i.e., what can be done, instead of dwelling on all of the predicaments people face on a day-to-day basis, congealed by the terror of everyday life. I use this term terror of everyday life here deliberately, e.g., if you are a worker in Bosnia and Herzegovina today, working in a privatized company on the production floor in summer in which the temperatures go beyond 50 or 60 degrees Celsius and you try to complain about this, you will automatically be silenced by threats of being laid off and replaced. The plenums, however, are attempting—and are so far managing—to break through such fear by giving the people a chance to speak while creating a learning opportunity for people so that they can actually share their thoughts, grievances, and fears with one another. ¶ It is here that I would like to relate the plenums as sites of learning to the notion of a “people’s university.” The French philosopher, Jacques Derrida, in his essay titled, University without Condition,¹ states that the principle of unconditional resistance lies in the core of the university, and that the same should always be reflected, invented, and posed. It thus has an obligation to question everything. Derrida continues, saying:
“… the university might be in advance not just cosmopolitan, but universal, extending beyond (…) economic powers (to corporations and to national and international capital), to the powers of the media, ideological, religious, and cultural powers…” ² Following this line of argument and in light of what is happening throughout plenums in Bosnia and Herzegovina today, we see that both the protests and the plenums can indeed be viewed as a university of people. Spaces in which nothing is beyond question—not even the current manifestations of democracy or the authority of the question form. Looking at the plenums and protests with this in mind, we can see a strong emancipatory potential here as the plenums and protests are themselves sites of learning while engaging in a struggle against the political hegemony present in Bosnia and Herzegovina
See: Derrida, Jacques & Peggy Kamuf. Whithout Alibi Ibid.
today. ¶ The plenums represent a step forward for the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina as they are finally waking up from the dream of the transition from socialism to democracy, and I say ‘dream’ here in reference to the late comedian, George Carlin, who says of the American Dream, “You have to be asleep to believe it.” ¶ Prior to and after the wars in former Yugoslavia, the elites promised the people a prosperous life in a democratic society, free to exercise their right to national self-determination, and for over two decades, people have been deceived by this and were given something completely opposite; they were constantly being told that they are always under threat and that they were always alone in whatever they did. Ever since the protests began, however, people began to rediscover the long lost solidarity among themselves, and not only this, but through the plenums, people are finally reclaiming the language that was taken away from them and can now articulate their anger and discontent, and voice their concerns of being robbed for over two decades. The plenums are a place without restriction in which people care less and less about nationality, ethnicity, or religion, and start caring for each other and working towards a better tomorrow for all of us.
Why are the Plenums Successful ? “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old are dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum, a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.” Antonio Gramsci ³ This quote by Antonio Gramsci precisely pinpoints the political and emancipatory stalemate into which the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina were forced after the signing of the Dayton Accords in 1995, which denounced them as the working class and categorized them as exclusively ethnic subjects. Therefore, it was thought that protests and resistance could only be organized along ethnic lines. However, as we have seen in the last three months, the plenums and protests proved that people do not believe the stories of ethnic exclusiveness. ¶ In the past, we have witnessed several protests and acts of social decentralization; the JMBG protests for ID numbers—workers’ protests which were completely disconnected from one another. During these events, there was no attempt to show that precarity does not know boundaries, it just appeared that the interests of one group were exclusively their own and did not share their logic with
Liquidation / Pg. 73 / Emin Eminagić
others. This problem points to something more traumatic in Bosnia and Herzegovina today, which is not only a consequence of the war that ended in 1995, but also of one that is still in progress; that the political elites in the last twenty years have been using ethno-nationalist manipulation and threats of new conflicts on the grounds of ethnicity and, in this way, obscure other problems that face the country. ¶ Before the plenums, a certain degree cynicism was omnipresent regarding any forms of resistance; phrases such as, Yet another doomed strike! were mostly common. But what happened through the plenums? How can we read struggles where there is no connection between social groups and disbelief in making a change? As Walter Benjamin says, every failed revolution brings more fascism—but on one side, we have workers strikes which brought forward the method of plenums—the workers accepted nothing less than that which they were owed. The workers now univocally express their No thanks! to the bits and pieces the owners and the system are presenting to them as a choice. On other side, we were confronted with the muteness of the community, divided in their concerns and sympathy. ¶ What is happening now brings the people together again to formulate new solidarities and a long-lost commonality between one another while fighting the hegemonic, imaginary political elites and the international community imposed on them. It is a moment of fighting back and resisting through education and knowledge production, which is legitimized through the protests. ¶ The plenums are now under attack by the same hegemonic forces they are fighting against. The weapons the elites use against the people and plenums are the usual politicking lies, threats of conflict, and ethnic difference. However, as plenums are indeed sites of learning, people soon realize that these are empty threats while focusing solely on their demands—which represent the real needs of the people. ¶ After two decades, we deserve the right to be optimistic about the outcome of the plenums and protests. People realize the importance of this, but also that we all are facing the same problems and struggles, and consequently, we identify with each other and are starting to share a common vision of the future based on equality, social justice, solidarity, and commonality, because in the end, we are and have always been in this together.
Gramsci, Antonio. Prison Notebooks. Columbia University Press, 2011.
Cities under marke
s r et rule Liquidation / Pg. 75 / Nik Theodore, Neil Brenner, Jamie Peck
For three decades now, the course of urban change has been steered by neoliberalism. Within Europe, neoliberalism took center stage in the late 1970s with efforts to limit government regulation of the economy, in an attempt to restore corporate profits and to ignite bursts of economic growth. Following the lead of Britain’s Margaret Thatcher, governments across the continent responded by dismantling social contracts, while at the same time adopting policies that extend market rule. To differing degrees, European countries have pursued a range of neoliberal policy reforms, including breaking labor unions, cutting corporate taxation, privatizing public services and assets, weakening social assistance programs, and easing restrictions on international capital mobility—all in the name of creating a “good business climate”. Cities were now exposed to market forces and the demands of private capital like never before. ¶ This project was accelerated following the collapse of state socialism in Eastern Europe, leading to “shock therapy” privatizations and liberalizations that saw public assets sold off to the highest bidder (or to politically connected ones). A new model of governance was entrenched in which private profit, rather than social need, was sanctioned as the primary goal of public policy. ¶ Despite the rosy predictions of economic renaissance that accompanied these great transformations, the destructive consequences of neoliberal policies are readily evident to any observer of European—and, indeed, global—urban life: • • • •
massive inequalities, seen in the contrasts of extreme wealth and abject poverty, often in close proximity; reductions in public services (including transportation, education and health care) precisely in those dense population centers where needs are greatest; the destabilization of local economies through real estate speculation and financial transactions based on the quest for short-term profits, rather than the pursuit of investments that sustain long-term economic capacities; and the increasing use of public-private “partnerships” that insulate major urban planning decisions from democratic control. Amidst these polarizing outcomes, heightened competition for jobs and investment between cities set the stage for further rounds of neoliberal policymaking. Mayors increasingly sought to run cities “like a business,” with a single-minded focus on a new “bottom line,” that of business attraction. This meant more privatizations, more generous concessions to businesses, deeper cuts to public services and a further endorsement of corporate control over social assets. By the mid-2000s, it was clear that chasing mobile investment using the well-worn neoliberal playbook of privatization, deregulation and corporate concessions had become a preoccupation of city leaders. Some businesses prospered, corporate profits and stock market valuations soared, especially in the financial sector, and real estate markets reached unsustainable heights. But the majority of the population, from the European industrial heartlands of the West to the newly “liberated” states of the East, experienced shrinking income levels, systemic insecurity, and declining quality of life. ¶ Then the 2007-08 global financial
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crisis hit. Surely, many concluded, this must be the end of neoliberal rule? But more than five years since the Wall Street crash, the view from 2013 suggests that neoliberalism has, once again, risen from the ashes of crisis. Austerity has become the order of the day and neoliberalism’s latest guide. From Iceland to Greece and from Britain to Hungary, the policy reforms being implemented look depressingly familiar—more cuts in social spending, more privatization and deregulation, more concessions to global corporations, less public deliberation and loss of control over economic policy. ¶ Throughout Europe, the impacts of neoliberal reforms have been most immediately felt in cities, especially by the neediest residents. The pain of austerity programs has been “devolved” to the cities. Homelessness, economic insecurity, fears of crime, growing social isolation have been the predictable consequences. Cities increasingly have become divided spaces. On the one hand, many central business districts have benefitted from massive public-sector infrastructure investments, leading the way for similarly massive private investment and turning downtown areas into playgrounds for the wealthy. Many poor and working class neighborhoods are becoming more or less permanent zones of exclusion, spaces to be policed and contained. ¶ With youth unemployment rates reaching staggering levels, policymakers throughout Europe now speak in hushed tones of a “lost generation,” young jobseekers essentially locked out of the job market, perhaps forever. In an earlier era this might have been a spur for government-led job creation and increased social spending to improve the life chances of the disadvantaged. But these are neoliberal times, where the diktats of austerity enforce stern discipline over spending priorities. Jobs programs for youth, and just about any other social program for that matter, are ruled out of order. Nowhere is this clearer than in those countries, such as Greece and Portugal, where the “troika” of the IMF, European Commission, and European Central Bank, oversees budgetary decisions and retains tight control over the spending of these (quasi-)sovereign states. ¶ Cities have been among the most important arenas for neoliberal policy experimentation. But they also have they been key sites for struggles against such policies. Indeed, a central message of the emerging indignatos and right-to-the-city movements, as well as of urban environmental activists and the regular mass demonstrations against austerity that we see across Europe, is that corporate power, and the elite decisions that support it, have gone too far. Social surpluses must be redistributed back to the populations that produce them, and popular control over urban planning and territorial development must be restored—the right to the city, in short, must be reclaimed. ¶ Urban unrest may be a way to destabilize the balance of local political forces, but this can only be the beginning. As cities try to cope with what has been a protracted crisis, the scope of policy innovation has narrowed further. The neoliberal playbook has again been pulled from the shelf. As a result, the long-run consequences of this crisis quite likely will include an intensification of the very same competitive pressures for corporate investment between cities and regions that, for decades now, have been used to justify more of the same failed neoliberal reforms.
In this climate, as important as it is to address conditions within a city, the geographical horizons of popular protest and the search for economic alternatives must be extended to relations between cities. The transformative potential of urban social movements will only be realized, we contend, if the rules of the game are changed across Europe and globally. New relations between places must be forged, to defend the space for an ethics of local social responsibility, and to enable sustainable forms of regional redistribution and cooperation. Such forms of urban and territorial solidarity, of course, violate neoliberal market rules, which is precisely the point. Until the economic rules of the game are changed, and with them the priorities of urban policy-making, municipal leaders will simply deepen their reliance on the very same portfolio of policies that has been responsible for so much of our predicament in the first place.
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The Urba Prey and Entrepre Neoliber of Public and Serv
an as d eneur ralization c Space vices Liquidation / Pg. 81 / Volker Eick
First we take Manhattan: The international real estate investor Lone Star Europe not only took the 5,300 formerly state-owned dwellings in BerlinHellersdorf but also the surrounding streets, parks, the playing ground, and the pedestrian zone; CCTV cameras were put in place and a commercial security company was hired. Immediately after, the company’s personnel “denied access to the privatized playgrounds for the neighboring youngsters of the remaining public housing developments, expelled them from the nearby privatized pedestrian zone, and confiscated soccer balls and bikes; even deprivations of liberty and bodily attacks are reported” (Eick 2006: 76). ¶ Second to none: “In neglected neighborhoods crime is more likely to grow than in neighborhoods where local residents feel at ease. Therefore, ‘district runners’ or ‘neighborhood guards’ should care for those parts of town identified as those with special developing needs [but] without holding sovereign powers … Ideally being at home in their operational area, they know the miseries of the local residents and enjoy far more trust compared to someone ‘from office’”, reads a strategic paper from leading Christian Democrats in 2011 (Gröhe et al. 2011: 26). ¶ Third time is a charm: A couple of months later, in March 2012, an 18-year-old youngster deployed as a ‘neighborhood guard’ by a commercial security company was stabbed to death in one of Berlin’s poorest neighborhoods (Schröder et al. 2012). He had recently become a ‘neighborhood assistant’ with a nonprofit specializing in (re)integrating the long-term unemployed into the labor market. As the responsible nonprofit reminds us, “the police provided training” to him when he was with his first employer, the nonprofit contractor (cited in Eick 2013a: 97). ¶ Glimpses like those above provide the background for analyzing the relationship between and the impact of the neoliberalization of housing and policing on the following pages. Space does not allow for the whole story, but the chapter briefly outlines its understanding of neoliberalization (I.), describes and analyzes the privatization of public housing (II.) and the emergence of commercial security companies in Germany (III.), before concluding that both processes result in a neoliberal city that dialectically has to be understood as both an entrepreneur and a prey (IV.).
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i. Neoliberalization and its Others As an ideology neoliberalism can be defined as a set of political discourses that reconfigure liberal conceptions of freedom, the individual, the market and the noninterventionist state, or as “an ideological rejection of egalitarian liberalism in general and the Keynesian welfare state in particular” (Hackworth 2007: 9). Yet neoliberalism is also a practice, differing from that ideology, in that the state is a mover of key features of neoliberalization such as liberalization, deregulation, privatization, market proxies in the residual public sector, internationalization, and lower direct taxes (Jessop 2002; see also Brenner, this volume).¹ ¶ Neoliberalization is more of a highly contingent process than a final product. This process can be described as a dialectical one, constituted by the conflicting tendencies towards destruction of structures already in existence and construction of new ones. Neoliberal destruction implies the removal of so-called Keynesian amenities² such as public housing or state policing, the removal of policies such as redistributed welfare and food stamps in the case of the US, the destruction of institutions such as the labor unions in the UK, or the replacement of insurance-based unemployment systems with mandatory schemes such as the workfare-based Hartz IV system in Germany (Eick 2011). ¶ In looking at (the end of) social housing in Germany and connecting such a privatization process with the rise of commercial security companies under “actually existing neoliberalism” (Brenner & Theodore 2002), the following lines argue for an understanding of the entrepreneurial city as a ‘prey’ of its own — by re-commodifying housing, policing, and public space.
1 Bob Jessop (2002: 460) contrasted “neoliberalism with three other ideal-typical strategies” that might promote or adjust to global neoliberalization in order to facilitate a comparative analysis of neoliberalization. These additional configurations he calls neostatism, neocorporatism and neocommunitarianism to be understood as ideal types that “involve thought experiments, not … some normative ideal or other”; as shown elsewhere for the FIFA World Cup and nonprofit-policing in Berlin (Eick 2010, 2011) neoliberalization and neocommunitarianism might go hand in hand.
2 In addition, this process subverts established Keynesian agreements; on the other hand, neoliberalization implies the establishment of new institutions and practices, or the cooptation of the existing ones with the ultimate goal of reproducing neoliberalism in the future.
ii. Privatization of Housing: homes into hell The housing stock in Germany encompasses roughly 40 million units. 27 m (75%) are owned by private households, 9m units (25%) belong to housing associations renting them out. Out of the 27m units 15m dwellings are occupied by the owners themselves, 12m units are rented out (Pestel 2012). Two characteristics stand out: With 43 percent of renting households Germany is compared to other countries still a renters’ nation — in particular in the larger cities — and thus seen as a promising market for real estate investors (Eick 2013b).
Table 1: Selling and Buying of German Rented Apartments 1999 to 2011 (housing transactions with more than 800 units; differences due to rounding)
Public Sector Municipalities Federal State & Länder Private Sector German Real Estate Foreign Real Estate Private, no details Other Total
Selling Dwellings 917,000 385,000 532,000 1,028,000 652,000 330,000 46,000 105,000 2,050,000
(%) 45 19 26 50 32 16 2 5 100
Buying Dwellings 316,000 158,000 209,000 1,646,000 455,000 1,161,000 30,000 36,000 2,050,000
Balance (%) Dwellings 15 – 601,000 8 – 227,000 10 – 323,000 80 618,000 22 – 197,000 57 830,000 1 – 16,000 1 – 69,000 100
Source: Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development, BMVBS (2013 : 38);
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Between 1999 and 2009, more than 900,000 housing units under public control were sold to private investors (cf. table 1), including 448,000 dwellings formerly belonging to the state — this amount equals 50 percent of all rented housing transactions during this period.
Table 2: Selected Transactions of Private and Public Housing
Year 1998 1999 1999 2001 2004 2004 2004 2004 2005 2005 2006 2008 2012 2012 2012 2013
Housing estates GEHAG Berlin* WB Rhein-Main Frankfurt* Deutsche Post Wohnen* Deutsche Bahn Wohnen* GAGFAH* Thyssen Krupp Immobilien GSW Berlin* RWE Systems Immobilien(*) WoBau Dresden* Viterra Immeo (ThyssenKrupp) LEG NRW* LBBW-Wohnungen* Bayern LB* TLG Immobilien GmbH* GSW Berlin AG
Buyer RSE/HSH Nordbank Viterra Aurelius Deutsche Annington Fortress Morgan Stanley/Corpus Cerberus/Whitehall Deutsche Annington Fortress Deutsche Annington Foncière des Régions Whitehall/Goldman Sachs Private contractors TAG Immobilien AG TAG Immobilien AG Deutsche Wohnen AG
Units 29,000 14,500 12,000 92,000 82,000 48,000 66,000 4,500 47,500 138,000 39,400 93,000 21,500 25,000 11,350 60,000
Sources: Holm (2010); Eick (2013b); * public property/owner; (*) majority of shareholders are municipalities
In turn, the Federal government does no longer hold any meaningful number of dwellings. Transactions of the rented housing stock — already paramount with an annual amount of roughly 100,000 sold dwellings between 1998 and 2003 — increased to an all-time high of more than 280,000 housing units sold per year between 2004 and 2007. Then the financial crisis hit, and the number of sold dwellings declined to 28.000 (2009) — only to rise again from 90,200 units in 2011 to 221,130 in 2013 (Eick 2013b; Savills 2014). ¶ In the last two decades, in particular the states Berlin and North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW) sold their rented housing stock to private investors either directly or via state-owned companies, among them the GAGFAH (82,000 units), the TLG (11,000 units), and the LEG (93,000 units) — all of them in NRW (cf. table 2).
Table 3: Production of Social Housing Units in Germany
Year New units** Total units**
1952 0.32 0.93
1962 0.29 4.20
1972 0.18 6.17
1982 0.99 7.39
1992 0.11 8.13
2002 0.02 2.47
2012 0.12 1.66
Sources: Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Sozialordnung (1999); Holm (2010); Pestel Institut (2012); Bundesministerium für Verkehr, Bauen und Stadtentwicklung (2013); Eick (2013b); * in million units
Such a sell-out of housing also includes social housing units; housing with capped rents and additional costs subsidized by the state. By the end of the 1970s, the number of social housing units had a share of close to 30 percent of all rental units in Germany while in 2012 the share stands at 7 percent only. Further, building of new social housing units was almost nonexistent in Germany since the early 1990s (cf. table 3). ¶ The existing 8m units started to undergo a phasing-out process – i.e. brought to the market – leading to a decline of 70,000 formerly protected dwellings annually; based on the same regulation, the decline increased to 100,000 units per year from 2012 onwards. Consequently, the number of social housing units stood at 2.47m units in 2002 and went down to 1.66m units in 2012 (Pestel Institut 2012; Eick 2013b). ¶ In particular targeted are larger cities. In 1991, Berlin controlled a public housing stock of more than 480,000 units, amounting to 28 percent of the whole housing stock being maintained by 19 municipal housing associations. By the mid-1990s, the Berlin state told those associations to sell 15 percent of the housing stock either to renters or to private investors in order to decrease Berlin’s debts. Further, the Berlin Senate itself sold two of the largest municipal housing associations, the GEHAG (40,000 units) and the GSW (60,000 units), to private investors. By the end of 2008, six municipal housing associations remained with publicly controlled dwellings amounting to 15,8 percent of the whole housing stock. Within less than 20 years almost half of the public housing stock was gone (Uffer 2014). ¶ But not only that, the privatization of the public housing stock also turned public employees into private ones with lower wages; led to redundancies due to outsourcing of former in-house tasks, to the reduction of services for renters, or to the elimination of housing-related services altogether (Eick 2013b). What has been put in place instead, were safety, order, and security measures (SOS services), a disciplinary pacification system to increase profits, to incapacitate dissenting renters, and to silence dissatisfied customers alike. In many cases, hiring commercial security companies is the means of choice.
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iii. Commodification of Policing: pacification for profit In as much as public housing was a hard-earned achievement by the working class to de-commodify the treadmill of work exploitation (paid up with intensified state control), the introduction of local (and later state) police was a response to a growing loitering ‘underclass’ and a working but dissenting ‘dangerous class’ (but also helped to curb private violence). In other words and from a historical perspective, both developments were meant to allow for the — always contested — reproduction of the respective accumulation regime and represent a particular form of its regulation, here: allowing for adjusted conditions of reproduction of the labor force (Eick & Sambale 2005). ¶ The same applies to commercial security companies — mushrooming since the mid-1980s mainly for two reasons: the outsourcing of former in-house tasks by state and commercial entities and the intensified commercialization and exploitation of public space for for-profit endeavors. Such exploitation, in turn, needs to be controlled and pacified to guarantee for a maximum of production, trade, and consumption. From this point of view and in line with Neocleous (2011), “security [is] not as some kind of universal or transcendental value but rather … a mode of governing or a political technology of order building, … a police mechanism: a mechanism for the fabrication of a social order” (Neocleous 2011: 26, emphasis in original). ¶ An additional specification may be helpful. This paper argues that security companies by definition are not ‘private’ but ‘commercial’, i.e. concerned about profits and market shares. ‘Private’, to the contrary, are those initiatives that are not primarily interested in generating profits, such as, for example, militias, nonprofits, and crime prevention schemes in all their shades (Eick 2011). In short, if there is talk about ‘privatization’ with regard to the security business it is essentially about the commodification of “security promises” (Nogala 1995: 252). ¶ Inasmuch as the neoliberalization of current capitalism goes with the intensified socioeconomic valorization and exploitation of hitherto neglected parts of the city — including the privatized residential areas — it goes with the mobilization of until then only latently and
Table 4: German Commercial Security Companies
Year Companies Employees Turnover, in billion €
1970 325 47,400 0.3
1980 542 61,700 0.5
1990 835 105,000 1.2
2000 2,570 140,000 3.38
2010 2,100 171,000 4.57
2013 4,000 183,400 5.15
Sources: http://bdws.de; own account
less considered opportunities for investment and profit generation (Harvey 1989, 2005). Commercial security companies are one instrument for such operations in that they are, unlike the police, particularly mobilized as a preventive and proactive disciplining and pacifying force (Eick 2014). ¶ While the first German commercial security company was founded already in 1901, the industry enjoys significant growths rates in particular since the mid1980s (Briken 2011; Eick & Briken 2014), the time when neoliberalization took hold. Statistics divide the German commercial security industry into three markets: In 2013, the respective annual turnovers amounted to €2.1 billion (mechanic security), €3.48b (electronic security), and €5.15b (services), the latter encompassing 4,000 commercial security companies with a workforce of about 183,400 employees (cf. table 4). ¶ About 60 percent of those security services employees work in property protection, and an additional 5 percent patrol neighborhoods — together with the maintenance of surveillance technology the fastest growing subsection within the security industry (Eick & Briken 2014). Beyond 62 police-private partnerships between the police and the security industry (Eick 2014), commercial security contractors also commenced operations with the retail industry in public and/or semi-public space, among them about 20 security agreements in Germany’s Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), an estimated 150 City Patrols in cooperation with the business community in inner cities, and roughly 500 security contracts with the public and private real-estate industry. These latter private-private cooperations reflect the tendency to privatize public space and to ‘secure’ its profitability by commercial means. The ‘shop floor’ of the entrepreneurial city not only comprises retail and real-estate personnel but operates in conjunction with the respective ‘plant security’.
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iv. Right to the City — not a rightwing city Attempts to commodify urban space, either through privatization or commodification, reflect a neoliberal understanding of an entrepreneurial city that is eager to compete on the global, regional, and local scale – whatever the price for the citizenry in particular might be. In general, it is clear though that the price is the transformation of the cities’ common weal into an urban prey for profit-generation purposes. Attempts to increase profits for the real estate sector, for (foreign) investors and for ‘boosting’ the finance-based market economy of Germany, the Federal and state governments stopped the building of public housing, ended subsidizing rents, and sold the remaining public housing stock to international investors, thus (re)commodifying the link between housing and work. ¶ Attempts to make wage labor in security provision more productive and to allow for an easier control of enhanced neoliberal urban spaces, neoliberal ‘pacification governance’ to an increasing extent opened up to delivery by “third parties” (Buerger and Mazerolle 1998); including but not limited to the corporate sector (commercial security contractors).³ The participation of these stakeholders is a consequence of the intensified commodification of urban space, which reflects an understanding of ‘security’ as a commodity. ¶ Attempts of those, either belonging to the ‘Right to the City’ movement or other social movements, therefore, not only need to include into their fights the variety of neoliberal attacks but also the different scales on which the neoliberal state in all its shades and the glocal capital in all its brutality try to suppress and to incapacitate us.
3 It also includes nonprofit-organizations (financed through the public employment offices) and the voluntary sector (e.g. neighborhood watch); the respective discussions are not included in this paper (cf. Eick 2011; Eick & Briken 2014).
References • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • •
Brenner, N. and N. Theodore 2002. “Cities and the Geographies of ‘Actually Existing Neoliberalism’”. Antipode 34(3): 349–379. Briken, K. 2011. Produktion von ‘Sicherheit’? [Production of Security?]. Düsseldorf. Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Sozialordnung 1999. Statistische Übersichten zur Sozialpolitik in Deutschland [Statistical Synopsis on Social Policies in Germany]. Bonn. Bundesministerium für Verkehr, Bau und Stadtentwicklung 2013. Bericht über die Wohnungs- und Immobilienwirtschaft in Deutschland [Report on the Housing and Real Estate Economy in Germany]. Berlin. Eick, V. 2006. “Preventive Urban Discipline”. Social Justice 33(3): 66–84. Eick, V. 2010. “A Neoliberal Sports Event?”. CITY 14(3): 278–297. Eick, V. 2011. “Policing ‘Below the State’ in Germany”. In: L. Huey and L. Fernandez (eds.), Rethinking Policing and Justice. New York. Eick, V. 2013a. “Polychrome Policing in Germany”. In: R. Lippert and K. Walby (eds.), Policing Cities. New York. Eick, V. 2013b. Immobilienwirtschaft in Nordrhein-Westfalen [Real Estate in North-Rhine Westphalia]. Düsseldorf. Eick, V. 2014. “Variegated Policing in Germany”. In: V. Eick and K. Briken (eds.), Urban (In)Security. Ottawa, ON. Eick, V. and K. Briken (eds.) 2014. Urban (In)Security. Ottawa/ON. Eick, V. and J. Sambale 2005. “Ein neuer Nexus zwischen Wohnungsund Arbeitsmarkt” [A new nexus between the labor and the housing market]. In: V. Eick and J. Sambale (eds.), Sozialer Wohnungsbau, Arbeitsmarkt(re)integration und der neoliberale Wohlfahrtsstaat in der Bundesrepublik und Nordamerika [Social housing, labor market (re) integration, and the neoliberal welfare state in Germany and North America]. Berlin. Gröhe, H. et al. 2011. Politik für die Stadt der Zukunft [Policies for the city of the future]. Berlin. Hackworth, J. 2007. The Neoliberal City. Ithaka/NY. Harvey, D. 1989. “From Manageralism to Entrepreneurialism”. Geografiska Annaler 71B(1): 3–17. Harvey, D. 2005. A Short History of Neoliberalism. Oxford. Holm, Andrej 2010. “Privare heißt Rauben” [Privare means to rob]. Z. Zeitschrift Marxistische Erneuerung 21(83): 46–59. Jessop, B. 2002. “Liberalism, Neoliberalism, and Urban Governance”. Antipode 34(3): 452–472. Neocleous, M. 2011. “Security as Pacification”. In: M. Neocleous and G. Rigakos (eds.), Anti-Security. Ottawa/ON.
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Nogala, D. 1995. “Was ist eigentlich so privat an der Privatisierung sozialer Kontrolle?” [What’s so private about privatization of social control?] In: F. Sack et al. (eds.), Privatisierung staatlicher Kontrolle [Privatization of state control]. Baden-Baden: 234–260. Pestel Institut 2012. Bedarf an Sozialwohnungen in Deutschland [Demands for Social Housing in Germany]. Hannover. Savills Immobilien Beratung 2014. Markt für Wohnungsportfolios 2013 [Market for housing portfolios]. Berlin. Schröder, T. et al. 2012. “Jussef el-A. starb nach einem Fußball-Streit durch einen Messerstich” [Jussef el-A died from stab after football quarrel]. BZ (10 March). Online. Available at: http://tinyurl.com/873tmbu [accessed 27 April 2014]. Uffer, S. 2014. “Wohnungsprivatisierung in Berlin” [Housing privatizations in Berlin]. In: A. Holm (ed.), Reclaim Berlin. Berlin.
Convers Fragmen Jugoplas Protagon
sational nts with stika nists Liquidation / Pg. 93 / OUR (Alemka Đivoje, Dalibor Prančević, Robertina Tomić)
Research of the OUR collective, 2014
In order to question the existence and demise of an important production line in Dalmatia, the OUR collective employed a field work methodology—an inspection of the current conditions and layers of memory subsequently articulated through a participatory form—a building block of the Jugoplastika ¹ exhibition at the Salon Galić in Split , as well as the performative actions in public buses, marking the fictive birthday of the Jugoplastika Conglomerate. OUR’s secondary research phase mostly consisted of direct meetings and conversations with various former workers of Jugoplastika. These evoked memories have aided the contextual reconstruction regarding the conglomerate. OUR has spoken to Katica Horvat, a production line worker, Nada Delić, a doll designer, and the commercial director, Ante Fabjan, about their experiences and different outlooks regarding their working environments.
Liquidation / Pg. 95 / OUR (Alemka Đivoje, Dalibor Prančević, Robertina Tomić)
First commercial director, worked in Jugoplastika since 1952 [memory] Listen, I can tell you about things I remember. But you have to understand, I am 94 years old! [commercial sector] I worked in Jugoplastika from 1952 until 1982. I spend the last four years as Jugoplastika’s representative in the Soviet Union, in Moscow. Soon after I returned, I retired. In 1952, I was appointed as the commercial director and I worked in procurement, import-export, sales, and marketing. Ten years later (around 1962), there were about 250 people working in the commercial sector. [symbolic beginnings] November 23rd, 1952 was the day when the first product came out of a machine in Jugoplastika. Some years ago, I paid for an advertisement in the local newspaper, Slobodna Dalmacija, to commemorate this day. The ad said: SLOBODNA DALMACIJA Monday, 23.11.2009. MEMORIES, NOT TO BE FORGOTTEN Memories of workers from 1952 who received the GALEB award for continuous 25-year work in the Jugoplastika factory. ON THIS DATE, 23.11.1952 [57 YEARS AGO], THE FIRST PRODUCT WAS MADE AND SERIAL PRODUCTION STARTED. Twenty-five years after it was founded, it employed 8,947 workers, and in 1987, there were approximately 13,500 workers. Source: Brochure Jugoplastika 1952–1977 [birth of a factory] When Jugovinil plastic factory started making plastic film, shops in Zagreb, Belgrade, and Ljubljana bought the film and made raincoats out of it. Jugovinil then started having technical problems they could not resolve. In the end, they decided to create a new factory.
1 Jugoplastika—clothing, accessories, footwear, hard processing and packaging factory—was founded on November 23rd, 1952, by separating from the plastics factory, Jugovinil in Kaštel Sućurac. The development of Jugoplastika was executed in stages, changing its organizational structure as well as expanding the market for its goods up until the beginning of the 90s. At that time, it entered into a process of transformation which led to its demise, following a model which can be considered typical for that period: transformation-privatization-rehabilitation-bancrupcy-liquidation. The majority of the factory complexes were demolished in January and February, 2014).
Zagreb wanted the factory to be created there, however director of Jugovinil, Mr. Ilija Blanuša, who was originally from Lika, decided that the factory will be located in Dalmatia, in Split. Jugovinil engineers ordered new machines for the future factory and Mr. Ante Munitić, who worked in marketing, was tasked with starting the factory. [first production plants] When we started working, we were located on the 3rd and 4th floors of the Elektrodalmacija building. After about ten years, we moved to the newly constructed building, located on Solinska road. In the beginning, we did not have specialized machines—they were supposed to arrive from England and Germany. These machines didn’t use sewing thread, but a high frequency current for welding which was necessary for the production of raincoats and other articles. [work models] Mr. Ante Munitić was the first general director, I was the commercial director, and engineer Ante Jambrović was the technical director and we all worked together… What I had to do in the beginning was procurement. What did that exactly entail? Well, we needed additional materials for everything we produced: buttons, sewing thread, etc., so I formed the procurement department. People who worked in procurement would go to the factories that produced the materials we needed, and would sign contracts and provide us with the necessary supplies. ¶ After this, I worked on organizing the distribution service, because it was impossible to distribute in Split at the time. So I went to cities like Ljubljana, Zagreb, and Belgrade, and located people who acted as travelling salesmen for us. I arranged with Jugovinil to provide us with offices from which people could work. Then I branched out to Skopje and Sarajevo. We even had representative offices in Split. The salesmen would take samples of the products planned for that month and show them around the distribution network. Then they would bring back the purchase orders to Split and finally we would prepare the goods. [Jugoplastika and sports] There were many sports activities. I remember when Split’s basketball club became Jugoplastika’s basketball club. As the commercial director, I signed the cooperation agreement with the president of the basketball club, Mr. Ivo Gudić, on January 5th, 1968. This contract cannot be found today. Also, I presented the winning trophy to the champion of Yugoslavia in football. All of these activities happened upon my initiative. The football trophy was displayed in all our shops around Yugoslavia. It attracted a lot of people, especially the young! [about the end] You should have asked President Tuđman if Jugoplastika could have been rescued. He released the nuclear bomb that destroyed everything. Nothing survived. We had approximately 8,000 different machines, mostly specialized sewing machines. How did they disappear? And what about apartment buildings which were being constructed, and which were supposed to be given to the workers? What happened to them? What happened to all the shops? We owned shops in Belgrade and Zagreb!
Liquidation / Pg. 97 / OUR (Alemka Đivoje, Dalibor Prančević, Robertina Tomić)
They didn’t care… We also had a Showroom of models I created. Where did those models end up? Miniature models of all the factory pavilions and a sample of the first product we ever made were kept there. The AVNOJ award, which we received for being the best company in Yugoslavia, was also there—and many other things… [memorabilia] This year I gave a lot of materials to the Karlo Grenc Foundation, such as samples of three medals which were given to workers for years of loyalty to the company: for five, ten, and fifteen years of service. When the company celebrated its 25th anniversary, every employee who had been with us since 1952 received a sculpture of a Galeb (seagull). The first one was naturally sent to Tito! Sculptor Željko Radmilović created it following my instructions and advice. When these Galeb sculptures were brought to the factory, people were amazed! I did it all myself, without asking for permission. If Sanader had been there, I would have had to ask him! – pardon me for being flippant. Going back to the material I gave to the Foundation… I gave them many newspaper articles that were written about me—even from Russian newspapers! [personal continuity] Let me tell you one thing. I was a comrade ever since the Partisan days, and a comrade I always remained. I think you understand what I’m saying. [exhibition] I think a permanent exhibition about the Jugoplastika factory is a good idea!
Katica Horvat Seamstress, worked in Jugoplastika since 1961
[retirement or unemployment bureau?] I spent my entire working life at the sewing machine. Thirty-five years! I’ve done it all. Then they called us and said, “Retirement or the unemployment bureau!” And what were we supposed to do? I only had a couple of months left until retirement, and they arranged it so that I could get full retirement benefits. So that is what I decided to do. [beginning of work] I started working in Labud first. It was a small company located in the Elektrodalmacija building, on the top floor. It employed mostly women. We made drawstring underwear, men’s shirts, and overalls. Then Labud was merged with Jugoplastika. I spent my entire working life there. ¶ I don’t know what else to tell you: you had job security! You know, when you’re secure in the fact that you will receive your salary then you make do with what you have. What can you do today? You wonder if you’ll get your salary or not. And bills must be paid. They must! [working conditions] Working conditions were excellent. There were several factories. Each factory was located in a separate building: a shoe factory, a thermoplastic factory, a doll factory, and a clothing factory. We had everything. We had our own canteen where workers were provided food. We were satisfied. We had a job. [health care] Dr. Zavorović, a gynecologist, would come to the factory in the mornings and sometimes in the afternoon. He is retired now. If someone had a cold, they went to see Dr. Pivalica. Once a year, they organized mandatory health screenings and workers would leave the production plant in groups of five for check-ups. There was also a mobile x-ray machine for breast examination. Once a year, all women from the factory would be examined. Whenever anyone needed medical attention, they would go see a doctor. There was a period when a doctor would come and see us in order for women not to go up and down the production plant. We had a room where a doctor would conduct examinations. ¶ We had a nurse called Marija who would come if someone needed a medical prescription. She would bring medicine to the production plant, a prescription, or anything else. Many illnesses were diagnosed. We also had a dentist who was worth his weight in gold. We had everything, and did not even realize how valuable it was. Whenever a worker had to spend a long time on sick leave, our trade union would go and visit them at home. They would bring a small present depending on the worker’s living conditions. If their living conditions were bad, they would receive financial assistance. That’s how it was!
Liquidation / Pg. 99 / OUR collective
[holiday resorts] We had a holiday resort on the island of Šolta, and every two to three years, we had the right to spend ten days there. There was a resort in the Czech Republic as well. The Czechs would come to our resort and our workers would go to theirs. Similarly in Serbia, they would come here from Kragujevac, and we would go to their spa for ten days. Anyone who wanted was able to go. [work and memory] My memories of the factory are most precious. I find it very difficult when I pass by its former location. New buildings are there now. If only they had transferred the production plants! Jugoplastika used to have production plants in most little towns. Boats were produced in Komiža, in Vis, they sewed kids’ jackets, and buttons were made on the island of Brač. There were sewing plants in Sinj, Metković, and elsewhere. Jugoplastika provided jobs in every small town. And many things were exported! I remember we used to sew skirts for the French, three to four sewing points in a centimetre, very tightly sewn. We did the same for the Slovenians—for Mura! They were very precise. And so on, memories! I see less and less of our people. What can you do? That’s what I remember: all of us. Such is life; we have to carry it with us. [brand ] I was so happy to see something just recently. I was on the city bus and there was this man. It was warm, so he folded his raincoat over his arm, and I clearly saw the large label: our Jugoplastika. They still wear it! Our dresses too. I recognize the cut. After so many years, people still wear the clothes we made! [discontent] Workers from all Jugoplastika factories participated in demonstrations. We would walk along Domovinskog Rata street, then along the Riva, and through the city centre. People used to say to us, “Why are these women protesting? They have a job, they have…” We all had a job then! But we were the first to protest. When they used to ask why we were protesting, I would tell them, “Your turn will come.” I remember when all the young people gathered in front of City Hall to advocate for the rescue of the Hajduk football club. Everyone showed solidarity! I said that solidarity should have been shown when we were striking! Their parents worked in this factory. That’s when a show of solidarity was required; we should have all fought together for the survival of the factory. [made in China] There was a sporting event recently and I felt bad because they talked about who would participate, and how, and I asked, “But who is sewing?” The question I asked was about flags and sports uniforms. They responded, “The Chinese!” I have nothing against that, however, I know one thing! Immediately after I started working, a meeting of the countries of the Non-Aligned Movement was held in Belgrade. I remember we spent days and nights sewing flags to decorate all the cities. We were sewing them! Now they are participating in the Olympic Games in
sports uniforms made by someone else! Everything was destroyed, you see: Arena, Uzor, and other companies. It is normal to think of those people and to remember the security we once had. The work was organized into two shifts: from 06:00 to 14:00 and from 14:00 to 22:00, but we all worked and had regular salaries. You had something to live on. What can you do today? [Dugopolje solution?] We should have organized and fought for the survival of the factory. Even if the building itself had to be demolished, production plants should have been moved elsewhere, outside of the city. I know that one production plant was moved to Kaštela, but I don’t know if it is still operational. If only they had moved us to Dugopolje! People used to travel from Dugopolje to Split for work, and we would have done it the other way around, people from Split would have travelled to Dugopolje for work. But they would not allow it. They said, “Then we would never get rid of them!” [demolition] At least a thousand of us were present when they demolished the factory. We all stood facing it. The police chased us away. We stood next to each other: people who used to work next to each other, mechanics, and others. We all cried. The Jugoplastika building was knocked down piece by piece. The fire escape at the front of the building, which was built subsequently, did not go down immediately, so the news reports stated: Jugoplastika refuses to go down! However, they succeeded in destroying it and it was reduced to dust. It was the first time ever that a factory was blown up! [comparisons] I think out of all the factories, only Galeb from Omiš survived because they had the right director and support from the city. They said, “Look after your Galeb!” Today you are here, tomorrow you will have children. I was happy to see when president Josipović visited the Galeb factory. In Imotski, they had Pionir. I was surprised they didn’t manage to save it. It was more important for them to go and work in Germany and bring back a shovel machine, which they are now looking at, in front of their house. They think it will make them money! Instead, they should have protected it: the factory! Fought for it! … We had spent lovely days together, and young people today have nothing like that.
Liquidation / Pg. 101 / OUR collective
Toy designer, worked in Jugoplastika since 1969 [design] What I can confirm is that there really was garment design, that we marketed it as such, and that we had a large marketplace. Each unit had their own designers. There were about ten of us working in Termoplastika. Graphic designers worked with polyethylene technology and product designers with “Spraying systems” and “Toys.” The process of toy creation was not a game, despite what people thought. The journey from an idea to realization was long: from creating a plaster prototype, a galvanic mould, and then casting the PVC paste and baking it in rotational furnaces. ¶ These semi-finished products were then sent back to the designers who defined the final prototype (colouring, garment design, hair, and packaging). Following designers’ ideas, the laboratory would then create a mixture for the basic paste colour. Finally, the models together with all the data (all material specifications) and tailoring were submitted so that unit costs could be calculated. Only then was the collection ready to be accepted and representatives of all structures of production were present. [possibilities] We had subcontractors and our distribution network had branches all across former Yugoslavia. We were really successful. Even the managers used to say, “If only workers knew how much money there was!” Financial wrongdoing happened even back then, but there were also a lot of investments. We couldn’t complain! Many of our products were sold in the Russian market. [recognition] We worked for foreign markets a lot, for example in Galanterija, we made bags for Adidas, and in Igračke-Termoplastika (ToysThermoplastics), we made dolls for Zapf (East Germany) and Migliorati (Italy). Other plants worked for foreign buyers, too. Such export business made the most profit (in foreign currency) for Jugoplastika; however that was not the only benefit. By conforming to strict standards imposed by foreigners, we learned new technologies quickly and the quality of Jugoplastika’s products constantly improved. This was reflected in the quality of domestic products and, together with good design, these products often won awards and were recognized as a “brand” both at home and foreign markets. [standard] As designers in Jugoplastika, we had decent salaries. If you compared them to those in the banking sector, the salaries were low. However, designers received average salaries and occasionally even higher than average, which was enough to cover basic existential needs. I don’t know exactly how much they made in the production plants, but I know that jobs were
standardized and workers tried to exceed their quota because, for them, it meant higher wages. When compared with the way things are today, we had it all: job security, regular salaries, high employment rates, development, new production plants, and investments in production… Where are we today? [women and men] It was a specific type of production—and you could not expect a man to be interested in working at a sewing machine. There were more men working in the spraying systems sector because it was easier for them to work the large machines and articles. Also, men predominantly worked on the production of car parts, but there were also some women. Mostly, men worked in toy production plants with the large rotational furnaces and high temperatures—in difficult working conditions. Mostly, women worked at the finishing stages of toys and clothes production because of the nature of the work. However, you could not characterize other types of jobs as exclusively male or female. [the rest] Jugoplastika had a kindergarten and the very beginning. This was before I started working. We had well-organized meals, health insurance, a clinic inside the factory, and an organized vacation on the island of Šolta. We also published our own journal. [visibility] Part of our work as designers was participating in toy fairs in Milan, Paris, and Nürnberg. The Nürnberg fair was one of the largest international fairs and we had our promotional stand there for many years. We also visited domestic fairs (in Zagreb, Belgrade, Sarajevo, and Ljubljana), exhibited our products, and communicated directly with our suppliers and buyers. [dolls] I would like to tell you about our Indian doll. In 1969, when I started working in Jugoplastika, designers and sales executives would go to Italy together and buy “cast-off” models of dolls. Then we would dress them up. My colleague created a great collection: the Indian doll, and Mare, and Kate. These dolls were very popular and we made them for many years, but they were not our models, we bought them. However, immediately following this collection, more designers were employed and we slowly started creating our own models. ¶ We started attending fairs and developing our craft. One of the first dolls we created had coloured eyes and sucked its thumb. We named it Bebi. Right before the war, we managed to do something nobody in Croatia had done before: we created a mould for a doll with eyes that moved. These types of dolls were very popular and we were competing on the world market. In the end, we managed to create such a good quality product! … and then someone came and said, “No more! It’s finished!” [towards the end] When things started falling apart, workers started to worry about their jobs. Interpersonal relationships took a turn for the worse and people were very wary of each other. Malicious rumours started developing about who was going to leave and who was going to stay, because at that time, we didn’t know that it would actually all fall apart!
Liquidation / Pg. 103 / OUR collective
Perhaps if the majority of workers were men and not women, they would have known how to resist and defy the authorities. You know how it is with women, we had kids at home and were worried we would lose our income. New people started showing up, new unions, and they were threatening the managers—forbidding them from coming back to work the next day if they “valued their lives!” They destroyed all the remaining photos of Tito. An atmosphere of utter tyranny was created and it was not surprising that people were not resisting. They even feared for their life. That’s how it was! [the end] It was all destroyed. We had a market place, money, development, everything. Then war happened and they were ordered to destroy the biggest factories. I’ve made my peace with it. Today, when I pass near the place where Jugoplastika used to be, it’s as if it never existed. I’m not running away from it; it feels like someone close to me died and you get used to it. That’s it. I mean, you don’t feel anything anymore—the pain I felt in the beginning is gone. Now there’s no more regret. … That’s it about Jugoplastika!
The Art Working Organiz
t of g on the zation Liquidation / Pg. 105 / Mario Kikaš
I first imagined this talk as a report or survey on recent changes (or attempted changes) to the labour law in Croatia which indicated not only the factual neoliberal trajectory of an existing government and its decision-making, but also a necessity for different types of organizations under the new circumstances. In general, one purpose of the new labour law was to make the labour rules more flexible, and consequently, to promote the continuation of the de-unionization of workers ¹. These methods, or very similar ones, can be applied to other ex-Yugoslav states ². ¶ I realized that in the context of my fellow panelists who presented their art works (or workings), I should try to make a certain link between art and work and their contemporary interlocking. I will try to connect these concepts, not only by presenting examples of artistic “addresses” to labour issues or transformations in the organization of labour, but also through more “transparent” examples of labour issues in working on art and their effects on the potential for political organization in the art-sector. ¶ Before I start to trace these points, I will present my conclusion as the introduction, which is enhanced by yesterday’s ³ notions of work as a place of struggle and its forms (or lack of forms) in post-Fordist working conditions. To be clear, the process of transition in this region of Europe (to liberal democracy and capitalism) is inseparable from the labour issue and transition of labour— or more precisely, the privatization of the productive sector is inseparable from the privatization of work. ¶ During the socialist period, the workplace was not just a spatial frame of work (with its temporal dimension) often depicted and enumerated by a formula of 8+8+8. It was principally a specific form of political organization (i.e., an organization of society and community, etc.); a part of certain emancipatory political heritage of autogestion or workers’ self-management. ¶ In such a context, work and the work(place) became “publicized and raised as a political problem” ⁴ and as a foundation of a new society in which work was matter of public concern— contrary to how it is today: privatized and individualized. Today, not having a job or having a low income is perceived as a result of individual failure— of a lack of efficiency, and not as a matter of society as such. ¶ The political heritage I previously described (together with its contradiction broadly explained in the works of Michael Lebowitz or Susan Woodward; due to temporal and textual limitation, I won’t go deeper into this explanation ) ⁵ is not just an image of a glorious past, but is also on our immediate (utopian) horizon. Its dissolution through transition can be traced back to the Yugoslav period (late seventies), and, as a continuous process, caused a complete de-politicization of work. Work as a place, issue, or even existential need is no longer a matter of politics and public, while other concerns and political antagonisms (ethnic and cultural) took primacy. ¶ This introductory conclusion aims to understand work, not just as an issue of production and economy (in its neoclassical, limited definition), but also as a role in the “social mediation,” ⁶ as Moishe Postone posits. Or as Kathi Weeks adds, “Work is the primary means by which individuals are integrated, not only in the economic system, but also into social, political, and familial modes.” ⁷ ¶ But, what’s art got to do with it? ¶ As we witnessed
Liquidation / Pg. 107 / Mario Kikaš
this morning at the exhibition in the Technical Museum (Zagreb), work became a frequent topic in a number of genres and artistic practices ⁸ —mostly in visual arts, slightly less in performing arts (especially contemporary dance), but also in “secondary utterances” or theoretical notions which often follow concrete artworks or have a certain reflection of them. We can trace this further back in the history of modern art, but I think it wouldn’t be too wrong to say that these new, vivid attempts are deeply associated with changes to the logic of labour—or in the way the organization of work has transformed in recent decades. ¶ In later periodization, it is often described by the concept of post-Fordism, or in terms of the new paradigms for managing the working process, performance management. This new logic of labour, together with the self-evident decline and dissolution of the welfare state in the West (or its version in ex-socialist states), set forth new questions which are fundamentally political questions. To put simply: how to organize and at the same time survive in this context while still managing to further the much needed political transformation. ¶ Recent attempts in critical—or even activist response—demonstrate organizational concerns in the art-sector. The new logic of labour (in times of insecurity, precariousness, and a lack of political subject) affects art-workers and demonstrates their invisibility on the map of the “working people.” Following are two
1 In Croatia approximately 300 thousands of 1.4 million workers are members of union—mostly in the public sector or state-owned firms and that number is getting lower and lower every day). Source: http://www.slobodnifilozofski.com/2014/02/jovica-loncar-pitanja-organizacije.html, May 3, 2014.
2 Serbian government also made an (unsuccessful) attempt to change labour laws which caused a very spry reaction of existing trade unions. At the same time the official organization of employers of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina stated a press release with demand for further liberalization of labour laws in this Balkan country (source: http://www.dnevno.ba/vijesti/bih/101923-poslodavci-za-izmjene-zakona-oradu-u-bih.html, May 3, 2014)
3 A discussion during the panel “The Primitive Accumulation and Industrial Action in the Ex-Yugoslav Countries” and keynote lecture by Neil Brenner: “Urban Ideologies and the Critique of Neoliberal Urbanization” (source: http://www.g-mk.hr/news/Liquidation-conference/451/ 3 May, 2014)
4 Weeks, Kathi (2011) The Problem With Work. Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, and Postwork Imaginaries. Durham & London: Duke University Press. p. 12
5 In: Woodward, Susan (1995) Socialist Unemployment: Political Economy of Yugoslavia 1945 – 1990, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
6 Postone, Moishe (1993) Time, Labour and Social Domination. A Reinterpretation of Marxs Critical Theory, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 150
7 ibidem. Weeks; p. 8 8 I will name most recent works of Croatian visual and performing-artists which associate with the “issue of work” on different levels. Of course, this selection is fully arbitrary and result of my personal mapping of contemporary practices in wider “art sector”. Therefore I apologize for inevitable oversights of certain works: Center for Dramatic Arts (On Labour, 2005), BADco. (Trilogy on Labor, 2007 – 2009), Andreja Kulunčić (Bosnians Out, 2008), Dina Rončević (Suck squeeze bang blow, 2010), Milijana Babić (Looking for
Work, 2013), Siniša Labrović (Work, 2013).
examples of “reactions” to these conditions which invoke the need for forming trade-unions as advisable forms of organization for workers in the art-sector. We have to bear in mind that these examples are specified for a de-unionized, Anglo-American context. But then again, it is also a signal of certain changes and a drift towards “new unionism.” ¶ The first example is a letter from Sarah Wookey, a dancer and choreographer, on a performance from Marina Abramović (a re-enactment of her work from 2002: Nude with Skeleton ) in the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles: “I participated in an audition on November 7th for the performance artist, Marina Abramović’s production for the annual gala of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. I auditioned because I wanted to participate in the project of an artist whose work I have followed with interest for many years and because it was affiliated with MOCA, an institution that I have a connection with as a Los Angeles-based artist. Out of approximately eight hundred applicants, I was one of two hundred selected to audition. Ultimately, I was offered the role of one of six nude females to re-enact Abramović’s signature work, Nude with Skeleton (2002), at the center of tables with seats priced at up to $100,000 each. For reasons I detail here—reasons which I strongly believe need to be made public—I turned it down. ¶ I am writing to address three main points: One, to add my voice to the discourse around this event as an artist who was critical of the experience and decided to walk away, a voice which I feel has been absent thus far in the LA Times and New York Times coverage; Two, to clarify my identity as the informant about the conditions being asked of artists and make clear why I chose, up till now, to be anonymous in regards to my email to Yvonne Rainer; And three, to prompt a shift of thinking of cultural workers to consider, when either accepting or rejecting work of any kind, the short and long-term impact of our personal choices on the entire field. Each point is to support my overriding interest in organizing and forming a union that secures labor standards and fair wages for fine and performing artists in Los Angeles and beyond. ¶ I refused to participate as a performer because what I anticipated would be a few hours of creative labor, a meal, and the chance to network with like-minded colleagues turned out to be an unfairly remunerated job. I was expected to lie naked and speechless on a slowly rotating table, starting from before guests arrived and lasting until after they left (a total of nearly four hours. I was expected to ignore (by staying in what Abramović refers to as “performance mode”) any potential physical or verbal harassment while performing. I was expected to commit to fifteen hours of rehearsal time, and sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement stating that if I spoke to anyone about what happened in the audition I was liable for being sued by Bounce Events, Marketing, Inc., the event’s producer, for a sum of $1 million dollars plus attorney fees. ¶ I was to be paid $150. During the audition, there was no mention of safeguards, signs, or signals for performers in distress, and when I asked about what protection would be provided I was told it could not be guaranteed. What I experienced as an auditionee for this work was extremely problematic, exploitative, and
Liquidation / Pg. 109 / Mario Kikaš
potentially abusive. ¶ I am a professional dancer and choreographer with 16 years of experience working in the United States, Canada, and Europe, and I hold a Master of Fine Arts degree in Dance from the University of California, Los Angeles. As a professional artist working towards earning a middle class living in Los Angeles, I am outraged that there are no official or even unofficial standard practice measures for working conditions, compensation, and benefits for artists and performers, or for relations between creator, performer, presenting venue, and production company in regard to such highly respected and professionalized individuals and institutions such as Abramović and MOCA. In Europe, I produced over a dozen performance works involving casts of up to 15 to 20 artists. When I hired dancers, I was obliged to follow a national union pay scale agreement based on each artist’s number of years of experience. In Canada, where I recently performed a work by another artist, I was paid $350 for one performance that lasted 15 minutes, not including rehearsal time that was supported by another fee for up to 35 hours, in accordance with the standards set by CARFAC (Canadian Artists Representation/Le Front Des Artistes Canadiens), established in 1968. ¶ If my call for labor standards for artists seems out of bounds, think of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG, established 1933), the American Federation of Musicians (AFM, founded 1896), or the umbrella organization, the Associated Actors and Artistes of America (the 4A’s, founded in 1919), which hold the film, theater, and music industries to regulatory and best practice standards for commercial working artists and entertainers. If there is any group of cultural workers that deserves basic standards of labor, it is us performers working in museums, whose medium is our own bodies and deserve humane treatment and respect. Artists of all disciplines deserve fair and equal treatment and can organize if we care enough to put the effort into it. I would rather be the face of the outspoken artist then the silenced, slowly rotating head (or, worse, “centerpiece”) at the table. I want a voice, loud and clear. ¶ Abramović’s call for artists was, as the LA Times quoted, for “strong, silent types.” I am certainly strong but I am not comfortable with silence in this situation. I refuse to be a silent artist regarding issues that affect my livelihood and the culture of my practice. There are issues too important to be silenced and I just happen to be the one to speak out, to break that silence. I spoke out in response to ethics, not artistic material or content, and I know that I am not the only one who feels the way I do. ¶ I rejected the offer to work with Abramović and MOCA—to participate in perpetuating unethical, exploitative, and discriminatory labor practices—with my community in mind. It has moved me to work towards the establishment of ethical standards, labor rights, and equal pay for artists—especially dancers—who tend to be some of the lowest paid artists. ¶ The time has come for artists in Los Angeles and elsewhere to unite, organize, and work towards changing the degenerate discrepancies between the wealthy and powerful funders of art and the artists, mainly poor, who are at its service and are expected to provide so-called avant-garde, prescient content or “entertainment,” as is increasingly the case—what is nonetheless merchandise in the service of money.
We must do this not because of what happened at MOCA but in response to a greater need (painfully demonstrated by the events at MOCA) for equity and justice for cultural workers. ¶ I am not judging my colleagues who accepted their roles in this work and I, too, am vulnerable to the cult of charisma surrounding celebrity artists. I am judging, rather, the current social, cultural, and economic conditions that have rendered the exploitation of cultural workers commonplace, natural, and even horrifically banal, whether it’s perpetrated by entities such as MOCA and Abramović or self-imposed by the artists themselves. ¶ I want to suggest another mode of thinking: When we, as artists, accept or reject work, when we participate in the making of a work, even (or perhaps especially) when it is not our own, we contribute to the establishment of standards and precedents for our cohorts and all who will come after us. ¶ To conclude, I am grateful to Rainer for utilizing her position (without a request from me) of cultural authority and respect to make these issues public for the sake of launching a debate that has been overlooked for too long. Jeffrey Deitch, Director of MOCA, was quoted in the LA Times as saying, in response to receiving my anonymous email and Rainer’s letter, “Art is about dialogue.” While I agree, Deitch’s idea of dialogue here is only a palliative. It obscures a situation of injustice in which both artist and institution have proven irresponsible in their unwillingness to recognize that art is not immune to ethical standards. Let’s have a new discourse that begins on this thought.” Sara Wookey ⁹ The second example is a more recent attempt to organize an artist’s union (in England) with the goal of fulfilling “an evident need for trade union representation.” They believe “in fair remuneration of labour, which should translate to wages comparable to other professionals” and are “against unpaid labour.” ¹⁰ ¶ Irrespective of this urgent need to organize as a result of severe conditions of precariousness, underpayment, or even no payment for artistic work, both of these goals remain in the framework of the ethical ¹¹ and productivist articulation of work through the reformist path of unionism, with the hope of changing working conditions. It is an ethical and enumerable issue but not a political one. Again, we can identify these goals as the first steps in a path that gradually leads toward the horizon previously mentioned, especially in highly de-unionized societies with a highly commercialized art sector. ¶ I explicitly named these attempts, and also the context in which these reactions occurred, because I think it is crucial to highlight this problem of organization (or crisis of organization) not just as a trope of the current cycle in the history of capitalism, but also as a primary problem in the artistic response to it—and not just artistic or aesthetic response, but also a truly political response. ¶ It became sort of cliché to quote Walter Benjamin’s speech and later essay, Author as Producer from 1934, but let me use only one perhaps often ignored or overlooked sentence from the English translation: “The political line alone cannot organize” ¹². He uses this sentence in the part of the text in which he distinguishes the artist who forms a clique (Kastner, Mehring, Tucholsky) from one who forms a Party (respectively Brecht); or the ones who are just porte-paroles
Liquidation / Pg. 111 / Mario Kikaš
of line, who are functionally transformative actors within their own artistic production as wells as in the production of the political subject or “political line.” John Heckman’s translation of Benjamin’s sentence from 1970 is quite tendentious or biased, however, given the period, it was made for the right reasons. If we read the original German, we will not find a notion of the verb “to organize.” The original is more indefinite: Die Tendenz allein tut es nicht. Or in Serbo-Croatian: Sama tendencija nije dovoljna. Heckman made his translation just after the big ‘68 turmoil, which coincided with the onset of the first neoliberal experiments in the reorganization of production and social relations. It was the mark of a certain organizational crisis on left, and also expressed the artistic and activist response to it all over the world. ¶ In 1969, in his essay, Politics, Performance and the Organisational Mediation, Darko Suvin, a Yugoslav Marxist and theatre and science fiction scholar, gave us an organizational answer to this translation of Benjamin’s essay, and put a crucial question which I’ll use as my conclusion: ¶ First the answer: “Paradoxically, a self-managing collectivism turns out to be the only way back to really free, personal, creative competition.” ¶ Then the question: “What forms of stage-management, and most importantly, what interplays with which communities, are to be sought?” ¹³
9 http://theperformanceclub.org/2011/11/open-letter-to-artists/ (3 May 2014) 1 0 http://www.artistsunionengland.org.uk/aims/ (3 May 2014) 1 1 In Sarah Wookey’s case: “I spoke out in response to ethics, not artistic material or content, and I know that I am not the only one who feels the way I do”. In aims of Artists’ Union: “We believe in fair remuneration for labour, which should translate to a wage comparable to other professionals. We are against unpaid labour. Fair and transparent payment for artists is not only ethically desirable, but vital for a sustainable and vibrant art world.”
1 2 Benjamin, Walter (1970) “The Author as Producer” in New Left Reviev, 62, July-August 1 3 Suvin, Darko (1969) “Organizational Mediation: The Paris Commune Theatre Law”, The Drama Review: TDR, vol. 13 (4)
Produc Confus and Interven Art
ctive sion Liquidation / Pg. 113 / John Hawke
Liquidation / Pg. 115 / John Hawke
Rest Area—Open House, John Hawke and Sancho Silva, New York, 2005
Contemporary art with activist intentions must navigate the twin hazards, it seems, of the Scylla and Charybdis of irony and despair. The treacherous reefs of ironic distanciation upon which the impetus to all action founders, and the whirlpool of draining despair stemming from a continual re-presentation of neoliberalism’s inexorable draw. How to attempt to ethically engage in a way that is productive—avoiding enclosed tautologies and actually perforating an existing situation? This text will briefly examine some aspects of urban interventionist and activist practices that appear to hold some utility for socio-political actors interested in contesting, in material and spatialized terms, the digestion of collective society.
Making it stick Make it look temporary. Make it look incomplete. Make it look boring. Make it look like part of a series. Make it look like it has always been there. Make it look official. Make it look like corporate property. Make texts jump and confuse. Compromise (slightly) with revealed site forces. Leaven with humor. Maintain. Combine elements as desired.
“Orange Work“ began in 2004 with artist Sancho Silva and the adoption of the florescent color orange as an organizing principle due to it’s special capacity in creating a presumption of authorization in urban space. Learning this language, small ruptures in the dynamics of an urban space have been created of surprising duration and public reception. Forms have varied, from the architectural interventions of bus shelters, urban “rest areas,” or reclining benches, that sought to reimagine broader disciplinary parameters for the urban environment, to street signage, seeking to instantiate new rights or inscribe new historical narratives in the urban visual field, to monuments varying from the pathetic to the ludic to the purposefully boring. ¶ Central to this work is the aspect of extralegality or nonpermission, as interventions made without authorization open the work to the widest range of actors whose cumulative actions continually create and recreate public space –municipal culture authorities, lawyers, building inspectors, police, sanitation workers, property owners, pedestrians, drivers, gang members, and members of the art going public. There is no target audience per se. Extralegality, rather than illegality, as the gestures seem to operate productively under their own jurisdiction and with a serene sense of self-authorization (rather than placing the emphasis on the performance of transgressivity, the very breaking of the law— the vital force of which, for example, enervates graffiti, and without which, it collapses back to a mediocre naïve art). ¶ While contemporary art has a phenomenal capacity to hybridize fields of intellectual inquiry and to travel in the interstitial spaces between established disciplines, its efficacy in the social realm in terms of creating conceptual ruptures that require real reexamination is hampered, it seems, by the tendency to, despite its disciplinary formlessness, be experienced in the first instance in terms of its own activity as a discrete professional field. In real terms, this often means that the first motivation in encountering a work claiming to be public art is to seek the label that will create a metacontext— the name of the author, title and date, material. This immediate, rather than secondary or tertiary, contextualization of the work within a field of art serves to underline the separation of the work from the viewer, the domain and property of the author, presented to the public for their edification or benefit, but needing them only as audience. ¶ Whereas, when no signature of the author is present, or clue as to whether art is even the correct field within which to attempt contextualization, the viewer is forced back onto their own presumptions to understand the work-- no one clear or decisive avenue for interpretation is offered. The figure of the author does not reappear to relieve the viewer, like a dog owner catching up with an overzealous dog at the park, leash in hand. The absence of signature has a functional element as well, for without a fixed party to blame or interrogate, it is more difficult for persons antagonized by the act to force removal of the work. Here the productive confusion protects the work, and a carousel of phone calls to determine responsibility is fruitless, no quantity of negative responses sufficient to yield definitive positive knowledge to authorize the works removal. ¶ If a text is to be affixed to the work, it should not exist outside of the work, and so provide a decisive clue to comprehension, but rather be
Liquidation / Pg. 117 / John Hawke
Knights of Labor National Headquarters Monument, Philadelphia, 2012 – ongoing.
part of the work, further complicating or adding credibility. Any attempt by the viewer to discover the margins of the work, to get outside it so to speak, in order to externalize it and understand it a discrete and separate whole can be resisted. If the viewer cannot find the edge of the work in the sense of an exteriorized didactic panel, label or plaque which will reveal the stakes, the resulting confusion, where myriad possibilities must be entertained, may be said to be productive – a broader range of spatio-political presuppositions and questions are put back into play. Did the city build this? Would they build this? Is this allowed? Is this a joke? Is this the new regime? ¶ This productive confusion where no immediate synthesis on the part of the viewer (whether sympathetic or antagonistic) can be achieved stems from the delicate balancing between the familiar and the improbable, in short creation of an uncanny situation of a potential “new normal.” Too mundane, and the artwork is completely absorbed into the visual noise of the city, too outlandish, and it is removed immediately.
With the requisite response unclear, works may achieve a degree of duration that, depending on the degree of spatial pressure, varies from weeks, to months, or even to years. While contemporary art, in its most cloying, promotional form, returns again and again to startle tactics, either optical or symbolic, perhaps there is something to be said for aiming for the opposite tendency, the art object as liminal, boring even, just below the threshold that requires a response, but nevertheless inscribing a site with a different political vector, the result of which over a long duration might become considerable. ¶ Ethical objections clearly may be raised as the nature of such false pretenses (of art pretending to be non-art), yet this must be weighed against
the consistent failure of so called activist styled art is to produce more than a performance of good intentions or earnestness, with artists at worst reduced to a role of culture economy Cassandras. Of course the disciplinary and economic limits of art as a profession make a total disavowal difficult, (i.e. the works are clearly signed in this textâ€”the interventionist artist must prove their productivity as much as the next worker) there is nevertheless an important distinction it seems, in advancing a first reading within the field of art and burying such a reading. Two emerging tendencies:
First, a declarative position, where the right to speak as the state itself is assumed, and the name, symbols and spatial prerogatives (street signage and architecture) of the state are adopted. New directives are issued, new forms materializedâ€”with the aim of creating more just social conditions, or at the least, providing the experience where these social wishes are seen to be materially in place (at least for the limited space and time of the intervention).
Mandatory Minimum, New York, 2010–2013
Liquidation / Pg. 119 / John Hawke
Here, rather than claiming to propose or even demand a change, or worse claiming to be an alternative to an existing power structure (and so framing oneself at the very outset to be extraneous or exterior to a constituted field of power) a leap is made directly to the desired end condition and stated in the voice of authority as if it is, in fact, the current reality. Paradoxically, a far more energetic response must be marshaled on the part of the viewer to negate such an action as the work asks so little from the viewer— not outrage, or energized action, but simply compliance. ¶ Conversely, there is vector of overidentification, where interventions attempt to provoke resistance to themselves by speaking through an exaggerated (though not impossible) corporate subject, and through deliberate overreach, attempt to make a kind of logical conclusion of boundless neoliberal expansion evident and repugnant. If such a form of capitalism may be likened to cancer, headless, and metastasizing into every organ of the body politic, this intervention strategy is a kind of vaccination attempt, introducing a small, inert toxin (the artwork) in order to awaken a social immune system to the transformations ahead. The violent destruction of the artwork could be seen in this case as a positive outcome— a mobilization and expelling of the recognized toxicity.
This is the tactic I have chosen for the Zagreb’s Kvaternikov Square. Here the shadowy (and fictitious) “Lean Networks: a Vision Group Company” announces their arrival in Zagreb through welcome signs directing pedestrians to the new smart card reader system that members of the public will use to “conveniently and affordably” recharge in order to gain access to the city’s parks and plazas. Implicit, but unstated, is that public spaces will now be operated on a pay per use basis, with LNVG controlling the concession. The privatization and monetization of basic aspects of life is masked by an eerie corporate smiley face whose declared customer service mission obscures the nefarious change taking place.¹ The presence on the ground nearby of a concrete base with protruding steel bolts, presumably for the imminent arrival of the smart card reader itself, gives further credibility to the dawn of a new spatial regime.
Liquidation / Pg. 121 / John Hawke
A short distance away, a central “magnetite stone” is donated by Lean Networks to the city of Zagreb (in apparent appreciation for the city’s largesse) further obfuscating the nature of the transaction, and like a magician’s gesture, draws undue attention away from the smart card reader system. A plaque affixed to the “stone” jumps between the registers of the commemorative, the scientistic, contract law, and disclaimer.²
1 English translation of sign text: Welcome to Kvaternik Square! → Please swipe your Smart Park™ card at the reader before entering. → New cards may be purchased, or additional park time credits added. Note: exact change needed; machines do not provide change Lean Networks — a Vision Group Company (LNVG) LNVG is committed to providing the highest level of customer service, and with our new Smart Park™ Network, patrons get convenient and affordable access to all of Zagreb’s parks and plazas with just one swipe!
The smart card reader is never in fact installed nor the orange barrier fencing for the monument removedâ€”the work remains in a permanent state of imminent arrival. Viewers must ask themselves if this is the society they want.
Liquidation / Pg. 123 / John Hawke
2 English translation of monument plaque: MAGNETITE ORE BOULDER WEIGHT: 1 METRIC TON COMMERCIAL USE: YES IN celebration of the accord signed on May 4, 2014 establishing a strategic corporate partnership (contract) between LEAN NETWORKS—a Vision Group Company (LNVG) and the City of Zagreb, assigning management and revenue extraction rights of the city’s public parks and plazas to LNVG, we present this boulder of high-grade magnetite ore. WARNING: Magnetic field, persons with pacemakers, and small children should maintain a distance of 5 meters from monument. DISCLAIMER: Magnetite is one of the most common oxide minerals and also one of the most common iron minerals. Massive ferrimagnetic stones have been shown previously to be a generally safe and effective method of population reorientation.
Report for M KraljeviÄ‡ Ga Regarding th Activities o Administrat for State Pr Managemen
Miroslav allery he of the State tive Office roperty nt_for april Liquidation / Pg. 125 / Bojan Mucko
1_report_05_04_ field work, from the apartment to the kiosk On Primorska 6 (in my neighborhood in Zagreb), I stopped in front of the display window of an old hair salon that has been closed for years. The State Administrative Office for State Property Management (SAOSPM) was addressing me from the window saying: “For rent.” Next to it, four pieces of A3 paper were displayed containing a Public Call for Proposal Submissions for Lease of Business Space 1/14 and a spreadsheet with the listings of all locations that are being leased—together with dates and times of property viewing. The dates referred to the previous month, so obviously I missed the opportunity to enter the empty state-owned spaces. Their exteriors are usually covered with countless layers of years-old illegal advertisements. ¶ Later that night on the internet, I found numerous articles expressing criticisms of the Office, especially regarding their tardiness in developing the state property registry which was finally made public only at the beginning of this year. ¶ On the official website, I entered State Property Registry and attempted to find information regarding Primorska 6, however the website does not offer a precise keyword search of the database, rather it simply lists full spreadsheets across dozens of pages. The complete list of business spaces in the category “exclusively state owned” for the City of Zagreb contained 217 sections spread across 22 pages. I viewed them all, but couldn't find the listing for Primorska 6. This address would obviously had to have been listed in some other category (coownership, non-registered, joint-ownership, etc.). If one were to search each of these subcategories separately to find information regarding a specific site, it would take days—even weeks of digging; simply too long given the time constraints of this research. ¶ Documents that outline the legislative framework of the Office affairs can be found in the section, “legal and strategic acts.” One of the key documents, “Management and Administration of Property of the Republic of Croatia (NN 94/2013), came into effect on July 30th, 2013, and terminates the Agency for State Property Management, appoints the Restructuring and Sales Center, and defines the deadline for the completion of the Central Registry of state property for 01/01/2014.” ¶ The strategic activity directives until 2017 were also published. During the
Liquidation / Pg. 127 / Bojan Mucko
last year, the State Office has twice offered Internet guidance for the interested public in connection to the Strategic Outline for Management and Administration of Property of the Republic of Croatia for the period 2013–2017, or Legislative Outline for Management and Administration of Property of the Republic of Croatia. ¶ Citizen complaints regarding the outlines were published on the website, as well as the official responses of the Office regarding these complaints. The Center for Peace Studies reacted both times, providing direct criticism to the market-oriented administrative logic and pointing out a lack of sustainable development concepts within the strategic framework of spatial governance. ¶ In the end, I was lucky—in the section “news and open calls,” I came across an announcement dating from 24.03.2014: Public Call for Proposal Submissions for Lease of Business Space 2/14. If a second round of calls has been opened, this must mean that the State will once again make property viewing available for the interested parties… I quickly glanced at the current list of property addresses and searched for the section containing dates and times of property viewing. I selected five properties in the greater Downtown area as well as in the Trešnjevka neighborhood and marked the addresses of spaces which are being opened for viewing this Thursday. Each space is open for only half an hour; first starting at 9:00, followed by the next one on every full hour.
Addres Scheduled viewing of space
Preradovićeva Street 13 Ilica Street 37 Republike Austrije Street 38 Tratinska Street 15 Ozaljska Street 40
09.00 – 09.30 10.00 – 10.30 11.00 – 11.30 12.00 – 12.30 13.00 – 13.00
2_report_06_04_ silhouette of Los Angeles / to own the image of a city Public Call for Lease of Business Spaces, City of Zagreb, deadline: 23/04/14) ¶ I was provoked by an image published alongside an article which announced a new round of open calls for leasing of state-owned business spaces. Vertical, black planes of some typical, most likely virtual, modernistic city executed in a rough 3D rendering aesthetic—a city reduced to a skyline —a sexy silhouette, a minimalistic graphic freed of human figures, against an abstract white background. Is this truly the image used by the State Office to attract entrepreneurs and businessmen—a city reduced to a PowerPoint graph aesthetic? Or simply a random noir architectural fantasy of some State Office website administrator? ¶ I downloaded the image and entered it into Google image match. The search, that lasted 0.39 seconds, resulted in 108 similar images. I was even offered the most probable statistical content, probably derived from the comparison and analysis of the titles of all those Internet images that were detected as similar. ¶ I even managed to find the very source of the image on the freeimages website. The image title is fairly formal and does not suggest a specific city. So, accompanying the Public Call for Leasing of Business Spaces for the City of Zagreb is an image titled, city silhouette 4. The author released the image on the internet on the 8th of July, 2009, and so far it has been downloaded 12,703 times. ¶ The image has been categorized under: “Architecture/Styles/Modern,” and marked by these keywords: america exterior office structure
architecture façade outdoors sunlight
awe life scene tall
building built low modern sky urban
city north skyscraper view
The image probably ended up in the hands of some state administrator due to search results derived from entering one of the above listed keywords, however, it remains unknown which specific terminology was used and in which order. ¶ I skimmed the terms of services on the freeimages website
Pg. 3 / 36
Liquidation / Pg. 129 / Bojan Mucko
Pg. 3 / 36
Liquidation / Pg. 131 / Bojan Mucko
and found that, although it offers free downloads and use of the visual materials, copyrighted images remain in the ownership of the freeimages website (namely, the authors it represents). In other words, the State does not possess its own image of the city.
4_report_10_04_ the itinerary of potential leasers / Zagreb silhouettes Preradovićeva Street 13 Around 9:20 am on the corner of Preradovićeva and Berislavićeva, silhouettes of potential leasers were scattered in small groups across the street and in front of the building entrance. ¶ The workers were, in a quick manner, removing sediments of posters from the window’s exterior. I was just about to enter the space when I heard one of the workers on the ladder worriedly comment, “it’s not how it used to be. People entering a house for the first time, and yet they don’t bring gifts.” ¶ The man in the blue suit was one step behind me and had a compassionate understanding, “Yes, yes. Time is to blame, everything today is upside down.” A wooden interior of an old picture frame shop. Black walls and shelves with classification numbers. I entered a dark back room and looked around: moccasins, sports jackets, and watches. The businessman/ businessmen all? gathered around the reserved state official with the coat tossed over his shoulder and a bunch of papers in his hands. ¶ A young married couple was already taking photographs in a completely dark, side room. The flash from the camera illuminated piles of boxes and stacks of papers tossed across the room. On the wall—colonial pornography—a yellow, torn photograph of a semi-naked, dark-skinned woman wearing a toga and holding a pitcher. ¶ Area: 64 m². Starting price: 2.700 kn per month. Security deposit: 8.200 kn. Ilica Street 37 I arrived at the location before the official who had the keys. Several men were scattered around the lot between the buildings where the space was located. Their facial expressions signaled disappointment. Unlike the space on Preradovićeva Street, this location was “unattractive.” Area: 24 m². Starting price: 840 kn. Security deposit: 2.500 kn. ¶ The space is accessed
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by a long, dark entryway, while the clearing between the buildings was, like many others, used as a parking lot. After the arrival of the state official who unlocked the space, the potential leasers only briefly looked at the space, a former dental laboratory, and quickly disappeared. The space seemed a bit threatening, but the pastoral images on the wall were quite relaxing. ¶ I even found an old Croatian 5 DINAR bill, removed from circulation in ‘94. I read the 2. PUBLIC CALL FOR PROPOSAL SUBMISSIONS FOR LEASE OF BUSINESS SPACE that was posted on the wall. The subject of the open call was regarding 20 business spaces located in Zagreb. Suggested use of all of these spaces is identical: “trading services, broker services, agencies, administrative services, production and assembly services.” Those offering the best price will sign a five year Contract for Leasing of the Business Space, with a 30-day grace period. “During the time needed to prepare the space for its utilization, and within three months, the leaser is not required to pay a monthly lease.” However, “The leaser does not have the right for reimbursement of invested resources for adaptation of the leased space.” ¶ I STARED at Section 11: “The business spaces are being leased AS IS.” Republic of Austria Street 38 Area: 64 m². Starting price: 2.700 kn. Security deposit: 8.200 kn. The same state official and few familiar faces as before. Only five or six interested potential leasers. Significantly less suits than on Preradovićeva Street. An older, cheerful entrepreneur was taking photographs of the space “for the wife to decide.” One of them gazed at hole in the ceiling. ¶ Fragments of conversations between the state official (o) and potential leasers (pl). pl1: Look-there is even a view above. pl2: Wow —you can even see the neighbor! o: above you can see… another floor… pl1: Mmm, you can see the air. pl2: No, you can see the neighbor up there! o: Yes… it probably leeks. There is an apartment above. ¶ Me: Anyway, the shape of the hole reminded me of some sort of a galaxy. Tratinska Street 15 In front of the space on Tratinska Street, a similar sight: workers peeling the windows. Me and a potential leaser, whom I recognized from the previous location, are standing in front of the display window and commenting on the space. This space, unlike the previous one, at least has a gas hook-up—but is lacking a toilet. ¶ The workers inquire about the space in Preradovićeva and whether it was leased, and if there were any interested parties. The man I spoke to replies, “Yes, there was this one guy… incredibly strong. He was very interested. He even offered to pay six thousand, before tax.” Another potential buyer comes in and, fascinated by the thick layer of posters removed, says in despair: “To neglect it like this…” He asks the official, “This surely has been empty for 10 years now?” The official replies: “Whatever I tell you would be wrong…” The first one turns toward me and concludes, “This is proof that the State is no boss at all, it is obvious, isn’t it?” ¶ I entered into a conversation with the official regarding the sale of state-owned spaces. There still does not exist a law which would enable the sale of spaces; only a five year lease—and
Liquidation / Pg. 135 / Bojan Mucko
even if the law passes, the State “that needs the money” will decide which spaces are for sale and which are not. It will “make a list and say—look, they pay regularly, and these don’t. We have problems with him and the location is also not so good, so let’s sell it!” Ozaljska Street 40 In the former textile shop, there were around fifteen interested parties; the only space that I didn’t have a need to photograph. It seemed fully ready to be leased. It even had a toilet. One of the interested leasers whom I spoke to at the previous locations asked me what kind of space I am looking for, so I explained that I’m interested in how the State is managing our spatial resources in general. ¶ “Then you should visit Kupari, close to Dubrovnik, and all the military barracks that you are forbidden to enter. How many spaces they have that are vacant…”
5_report_17_04_ outside of the working hours Yesterday I contacted the Center for Peace Studies and scheduled a meeting with Gordan on Friday at 3pm at their offices on Selska Street. Saturday is the deadline for submission of citizen complaints regarding the PLAN FOR MANAGEMENT OF PROPERTY OWNED BY THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA that are being sent to the State by filling out the PARTICIPATION FORM FOR COUNSELING WITH REGARD TO THE PROPOSAL OUTLINE PLAN FOR MANAGEMENT OF PROPERTY OWNED BY THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA. State in turn, responds to complaints according to the sections with “Accepted,” “Not accepted,” and “Partially accepted.” The results of the discussion are then made available on the Stated Office website. The people from the Center for Peace Studies will primarily be concerned with the management of the former military barracks, and I will react in connection to the business spaces.
The Agency for State Property Management was, in 2011, the heir of the legendary Croatian Privatization Fund. Matija from the Center for Peace Studies pointed me to page 15 of last year’s STRATEGY FOR MANAGEMENT OF PROPERTY OWNED BY THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA, 2013–2017, in which I discovered that “Evidently in Croatia, there are many institutional problems regarding the management of financial state property. Bear in
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mind, the CPF Oversight Committee was obligated to submit yearly reports to Parliament. Unfortunately, the CPF Oversight Committee has not submitted one in the past 13 years.” ¶ The ASPM was no different given that the Agency's work was taken over by the State Administrative Office for State Property Management— acting as a central governing body in managing the state-owned property—and the Center for Restructuring and Sales. The Agency's employees have overnight become state employees (with no regard to the Employment act or their own will), while the lawful heir of the Agency is Center for Restructuring and Sales. So, the latter one is carrying over the debt from the initial Croatian Privatization Fund, and is primarily involved in selling—or rather, restructuring—state-owned property, while State Administrative Office for State Property Management is in charge of parts that appear to be strategically relevant. The basic plan of managing state property, namely companies and real estate, is their functionalization, or rather sale of the strategically insignificant ones. ¶ Since 31.03.2014, the person in charge of SAOSPM manages 4,326 real-estate units; made up of 1,065 business spaces, 3,245 apartments, 8 residential complexes, and 8 diplomatic-consulate spaces. The value of state property is estimated at 31 billion Euros. According to the value of state assets, Croatia ranks fifth in the world, although the real economic effect of managing these assets is absolutely minute since the real wave of privatization is yet to come. ¶ I spent my whole afternoon surveying from the balcony of my friend’s apartment, located right across from the Office. I managed to catch the actual Office director outside of working hours, around 5pm, and the woman who left the building last, around 8pm.
Liquidation / Pg. 139 / Bojan Mucko
6_report_25_04_ PARTICIPATION FORM FOR COUNSELING and REPORT OF CONDUCTED COUNSELING Sumarized below is a complaint form which I’ve sent to the State Office. ¶ My general remark was that the State does not possess its own image of the city. ¶ Remarks regarding individual chapters of the outlined Plan accompanied by an explanation: ¶ On page 86, paragraph two reads: “To continue practicing public calls for awarding the use of business spaces owned by the Republic of Croatia to the civil society organizations, enabling them to implement programs and projects serving the interest of the greater good.” ¶ The State, by awarding business spaces to the organizations of the civil society, would thus need to grant the spatial resources to civil activities that are of public interest and work toward the greater good. However, on page 120, paragraph four states that a regular on-site inspection of non-commercial state owned business spaces: “will facilitate their preparation to be sold or used by non-governmental organizations, i.e., civil society organizations.” Henceforth, the activities of the civil society (holding public interest and greater good) are only awarded spatial resources that represent a market residue—spaces which cannot be commercialized due to their “unattractiveness” of the location, derelict condition and other similar characteristics, which raises several issues: 1. If the spaces are being awarded for the activities that are of public interest and work toward a greater good, they should be selected according to the specific spatial needs of civil organizations that seek the space, and not according to their market “detriment.”
Liquidation / Pg. 141 / Bojan Mucko
2. Formulation “for sale or to be used by an organization“ is unclear: does the State have as a priority the sale or use based on non-commercial activities, while favoring the greater good? To be more precise: after how many rounds of open calls is a certain space deemed detrimental and will such spaces be up for sale before they are made available to the civil society, or is there another way? This part has not been explained. 3. Another inherent problem is that the civil society is exclusively limited to derelict spaces, while a field study of the civil society's needs would demonstrate that throughout Croatia, there are concrete civil initiatives with developed plans for utilization of, for example, ex-military properties. Conversely, the categories of available spaces for non-commercial purposes should be taken into consideration with regard to specific spatial needs, and not be a priori limited solely to business spaces. Page 120, last paragraph: “Certainly, it is also necessary to establish a positive relationship with the local administrative sector in such a way that the cost of leasing state property is defined in accordance with the individual local administrative sectors and their legislative framework of property leasing costs, thus enabling appropriation of commercial pricing.” ¶ In order for the relationship with the local administrative sector to be characterized as “positive”—if this term implies a positive impact on the development of the city and public spaces—it is not sufficient to only appropriate commercial pricing, rather it is necessary to take into account the purpose of their activities and their content from a local perspective. State owned spaces—some have been closed down for years (along with the city and privately owned spaces)—create dead city zones. It is necessary to start developing sustainable models of urban renewal while maintaining a close contact with the local administrative sectors because such a way enables a direct contact with future users, i.e., citizens. ¶ The REPORT OF CONDUCTED COUNSELING WITH REGARD TO THE PROPOSED PLAN FOR MANAGEMENT OF PROPERTY OWNED BY THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA has been published today, on the 25th of April, and to make it shorter, none of my remarks have been accepted by the The State Administrative Office for State Property Management.
Liquidation / Pg. 143 / g-mk
Impressum This publication is published in the framework of the exhibition Liquidation in Zagreb. Publisher KUD INA Galerija Miroslav Kraljević Šubićeva 29, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia www.g-mk.hr email@example.com Editors Ana Kovačić, Sanja Sekelj, Lea Vene Translation Iva Cepanec Masters Copy editor Alexander Masters Visual identity, design & prepress Ivan Klis & Damir Prizmić Photography Davor Konjikušić and the authors Typeface Lumin / typotheque.com Printed by Stega Tisak, Zagreb, 2014 Print run 200 Exhibition, conference and publication were supported by City of Zagreb, Ministry of culture of Republic of Croatia, Allianz Culture Foundation, Erste Foundation, Embassy of the United States in Zagreb, INA – Industrija nafte, d.d. ISBN 978–953–58132–0–0
Liquidation / Zagreb 2014 / Miroslav Kraljević Gallery
Reader / catalogue of the project Liquidation held in Miroslav Kraljević gallery in May 2014